Grateful Dead: 3/22 – 24/1987

I decided to include these three shows as a single concert memory for a couple reasons. First off, none of the stubs actually shows a date, so it is impossible to determine which one goes with which day. Second, my date-specific memories are somewhat cloudy. And third, it was essentially a three-day concert, in my humble opinion.

My brother Mike was in college in Gainesville, Florida at the time. He told me that he was planning to drive up to this with some of his college friends and invited me along. I of course jumped at the opportunity. A friend of mine, Carlos, also wanted to go, so Carlos and I took a bus from Miami to Gainesville and hooked up with my brother. We were introduced to our fellow travelers and readied ourselves for the long drive up to Hampton, VA.

The next morning we started out. I think we had to take three cars and create a mini caravan. We had gotten about an hour outside of Gainesville when something prompted me to check with my brother to ensure he had the tickets. The look on his face said it all, and the trip was stalled while we had to return for the tickets.

We rolled into Hampton late in the evening. The first thing we decided to do was purchase some beer. We quickly learned about Virginia’s blue laws and we were not able to buy any from the convenience store. Luckily, there were some enterprising individuals who had purchased a lot of beer and happily supplied us for a reasonable profit.

We then went in search of a university (I don’t recall which one). One of the people with us named Nancy knew someone there in the dorms who would supposedly let us stay there. Yeah, that didn’t work out. The guy took one look at us and said no, but suggested we go sleep in the common area, so we did. We were rudely awoken by the RA and a cadre of muscle who wanted to know what we were doing there. It seemed we would be kicked out, but somehow they let us stay on the promise we would be quiet and not leave a mess.

The next day, we went to the show. Spent the day in the parking lot, playing Frisbee and hacky sack. Concert was amazing. Jerry had just recently recovered from his diabetic coma and these were the band’s first east coast shows following the illness, so the crowd enthusiasm was feverish. I recall the stickers being sold in the parking lot: “Jerry takes a lickin’ and keeps on pickin’.”

We were definitely not going back to the college, so we found a hotel nearby and all 11 of us packed into a single room. Outside, there was a large group of Deadheads sitting around playing music. I had a guitar with me, so I joined in and we played music late into the night, with a chorus of people ecstatically singing along. It was an experience that is truly beyond words to describe.

The next two nights were also amazing. Looking back, the three shows melted into one. Some of the high points were “Touch of Grey,” particularly poignant considering Jerry’s near death, Phil singing “Box of Rain,” and of course, I always love a good “Terrapin Station.” Here are the full setlists from each of the three nights.

March 22, 1987

Set 1:

  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • It’s All Over Now
  • West L.A. Fadeaway
  • El Paso
  • When Push Comes to Shove
  • Cassidy
  • Deal

Set 2:

  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Estimated Prophet
  • Drums > Space
  • The Wheel
  • Black Peter
  • Sunshine Daydream

Encore:

  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

March 23, 1987

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Althea
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Big River
  • Iko Iko
  • Tons of Steel
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Set 2:

  • Box of Rain
  • Man Smart/Woman Smarter
  • Ship of Fools
  • Truckin’
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Turn on Your Love Light

Encore:

  • U.S. Blues

March 24, 1987

Set 1:

  • Jack Straw
  • Candyman
  • New Minglewood Blues
  • Loser
  • Mama Tried
  • Mexicali Blues
  • Ramble on Rose
  • Let it Grow

Set 2:

  • Gimme Some Lovin’
  • Black Muddy River
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums > Space
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Wharf Rat
  • Not Fade Away

Encore:

  • Brokedown Palace