Dead & Company: 12/31/2019

Although I am a long-time Grateful Dead fan, and saw my first Dead show back in 1980, I was never fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage to the west coast to see the Grateful Dead do a New Year’s show. But now that I am here living in the Bay Area, I was not going to miss my chance to see Dead & Co. on New Year’s Eve.

When tickets went on sale, I logged onto everyone’s favorite Ticketmaster website and was put in a queue, and I waited… and waited. Finally I got in and nothing in my price range. But I was patient. Refresh… refresh… refresh. Finally, a single ticket appeared at face value for under $100, so I snatched it up. The rock and roll gods had smiled down upon me.

As NYE approached, I weighed the options on whether to take the train into San Francisco, or drive, which is less than an hour. I opted to drive, since I don’t indulge. I was unsure how late the concert would go and didn’t want to miss the last train, which was about 2:00 am.

On New Year’s Eve, my kids were in town for the holidays. Thankfully, my family was very understanding about my need to go to this show, and they were planning a chill evening at home. I headed off after an early dinner and drove into San Fran, getting there a few hours before the show.

As I pulled up to the Chase Center parking area, I asked how much parking was. The attendant told me $50. “$50?!” I replied, aghast. “No thanks.” I drove about a mile or so away from the venue to another lot, and that was also $50. I couldn’t believe it! I’ve paid half that much for concert tickets. I grudgingly turned around and went back to the lot right next to the Chase Center. If I was going to get hosed for parking, at least I wanted to be close.

After parking and finding a restroom, I made my way to the hippie vending area (nicknamed Shakedown Street). Lots of tie-dyes, stickers, and an abundance of illicit substances. While I generally don’t care what anyone chooses to do in regards to intoxicants, I confess that all the people selling nitrous oxide balloons and all the freaks huffing them pissed me off. I wanted to yell at them and say “Hey! You know that nitrous is one of the major global warming gasses, right? You selling nitrous to make a quick profit makes you just as bad as the oil execs pushing fossil fuels to make a buck.” But, I bit my tongue, purchased a “Making America Grateful Again” tee shirt, and got in line to enter the venue.

My seat was straight back, so I had a good view of the light show, and the sound was decent for an arena. The band took the stage right at 8:00 and launched into “In The Midnight Hour,” a great song to open a New Year’s show. They played two sets, and then took a somewhat longer break as the countdown to midnight began.

Shortly before midnight, the lights went down and the celebration began. A huge art deco clock was lowered behind the stage, and a biplane took off, circling the arena with some skeletons sitting on the wings. Then the dancers hit the stage, kicking up their heels in a “roaring 20’s” display that was very cool. As the sequined dancers kicked and shimmied, Father Time stepped out and began the countdown. “5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New  Year!” Colored balloons cascaded down from the rafters as the band started playing “Sugar Magnolia.” Perfect! Everyone danced throughout the third set, and the band closed the night with “Touch of Grey” as the encore. Yeah, a new decade, and I will survive.

The drive home was uneventful. I had a bottle of cold brew coffee in the car, so I drank that and listened to the Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.” Good driving music for a late night drive home.

Anyway, here is the full setlist, along with some picture I took from the show. Rock on, and may 2020 bring you lots of live music!

Set 1:

  • In the Midnight Hour
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Iko Iko
  • Mr. Charlie
  • Loser
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Sugaree
  • New Speedway Boogie

Set 2:

  • Help on the Way >
  • Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Drums (with Zakir Hussain) >
  • Space (with Zakir Hussain) >
  • Milestones
  • Standing on the Moon
  • Not Fade Away

Set 3:

  • Sugar Magnolia >
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Sunshine Daydream

Encore:

  • Touch of Grey

Alice Cooper: 12/31/1998

What better way to rock in the New Year than with Alice Cooper, right? But wait – it gets even better. So the ticket says Row 2, which I have to say, I was pretty psyched about. But when my friend Jim and I arrived at the show, lo and behold, Row 2 was actually front row! So even though we were off on the side, we were still deep in the madness and mayhem, and we were graced by Alice’s presence when he slunk over to our side of the stage.

The theme of this show was kind of a psycho-circus motif. There were demented clowns providing Alice with his various implements of destruction, and just grinning menacingly like something out of a Stephen King novel.

There were some nice surprises in this show, notably “Public Animal #9,” a classic from the School’s Out album, and “Unfinished Sweet,” where the clowns shoved Alice into an Egyptian sarcophagus and skewered him with swords. Also, Alice made a nod to Elvis, one of his influences, by playing “Jailhouse Rock” for an encore, decked out in a sequined jacket and some fly shades.

There were so many high points at this show, it was basically just one long high point. From the first chords of “Hello Hooray” until the last note of “Under My Wheels,” it was all Killer and no filler.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlistlowns

  • Hello Hooray
  • Sideshow
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • From the Inside
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Halo of Flies
  • Nothing’s Free
  • Cleansed by Fire
  • Poison
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Unfinished Sweet
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Under My Wheels

Guns n’ Roses with Soundgarden: 12/31/1991

I was never a huge GnR fan, but I like some of their stuff. When I heard they were holding a big New Year’s Eve concert with Soundgarden, and some of my good friends were going, I figured this would be the time to check them out and scratch them off the list of bands to be seen.

The concert was being held at Joe Robbie Stadium, which kind of sucked. I’m not a fan of stadium shows, but such is life. One thing that made me chuckle, though, upon getting my ticket, was the statement *Showtime Approximate*. Axl was notorious for showing up late for performances (or not showing up at all), so the audience was duly warned.

We got there and our seats were straight back, lower section. Soundgarden came out and started their set, and some asshole in the upper deck started tossing down M-80s, one of which exploded at my feet. I was beyond pissed and stormed upstairs, seeking out the jerk with every intention of having an altercation, but alas, I could not find him. He either moved on or ran out of ammunition.

After what seemed like an unusually long time, GnR took the stage and kicked right into “Welcome to the Jungle.” I have to say, I was pretty impressed by the energy with which they opened the show. Reminded me of how I felt when I saw The Clash and they exploded on stage with “London Calling.” Even sitting at the back of Joe Robbie Stadium, I felt the power of the music emanating from the stage.

The band played a long time, and the show was killer. I gained a new level of respect for the band, and understood why people liked them so much. I still don’t own any Guns n’ Roses albums, but I have good memories of seeing them live and tend to turn the volume up a bit when one of their songs comes on the radio.

Here’s the setlist.

  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Mr. Brownstone
  • Live and Let Die
  • Attitude
  • Nightrain
  • Bad Obsession
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Civil War
  • It’s So Easy
  • Patience (w Wild Horses intro)
  • Rocket Queen
  • November Rain
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Matt Sorum Drum Solo
  • Slash Guitar Solo
  • Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine (with Sail Away Sweet Sister… more )
  • Don’t Cry
  • Move to the City
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door  (w Only Women Bleed intro)
  • Estranged
  • Paradise City