This was the last show of our Dead tour. The band would play another night at the Garden after this, but I would be heading back to Miami with my friends Julie and Miriam. My brother, who graciously provided us a place to stay while in New York, was planning to go with us to this show. He did not have a ticket, and the show was sold out way in advance, but he went into the city with us hoping to find a ticket.
Scalping was illegal in New York at this time, but there were still people outside trying to hawk tickets. One of them came up to us and asked if we were looking for tickets. My brother inquired as to how much, and he replied $100. Now my bro fully expected to pay more for the ticket, but $100 for a ticket that cost $18.50 was insane, so he declined. But immediately, this tall, skinny hippie came up and addressed the guy selling the tickets.
“Hey man. You got a ticket for sale?”
“A HUNDRED DOLLARS! YOU’RE CHARGING A HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A TICKET?!”
The skinny hippie dude was broadcasting this to the world. Obviously, the scalper got a little nervous.
“Shhhhhhh. Be quiet.”
“NO! I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT YOU’RE CHARGING A HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A TICKET!”
At this point, a mass of tie-dyed freaks surrounded the scalper and began chanting: “Scalpers are Scum! Scalpers are Scum.” The scalper slunk away like a rat, crawling back to the sewers.
Anyway, my brother eventually scored a ticket (I think he paid $50, which he was happy about), and we went in to see the show.
This particular show was simulcast on TV as part of Farm Aid III, which I thought was pretty cool. Bob Weir made a point of mentioning the plight of farmers and making a plug for Farm Aid as they were segueing into “Maggie’s Farm.”
After more than a week of travelling around with the intrepid Dead community, I was feeling pretty frazzled. During the intermission, I had left my seat to get a refreshment, and as I was walking back up to our seats in the upper decks, I felt everything begin to spin. The next thing I knew, I saw what appeared to be the Hand of God reaching out of the clouds to help me up. As things came into focus, I realized it was Miriam’s hand. I had passed out and had a near disaster. Falling backwards down the stairs at Madison Square Garden would have been a most unfortunate way to end the tour, but thankfully someone was behind me and caught me as I fell. Miriam would later recount how my eyes rolled back into my skull as I began the fall backwards. To this day, I am grateful to whoever it was that saved me.
Overall, the show was great, but I confess being a little disappointed with “Black Muddy River” as an encore, especially since they had played it already as an encore the second night at MSG. But I quickly got over it.
We had a roll of 69¢ stickers, so on the way back to Jersey City, we strategically pasted stickers around the Port Authority. My brother told me that for about a year afterwards, he kept seeing those stickers and would chuckle inwardly, remembering the good times we had at the show.
Anyway, here is the setlist, and that concludes this run of Dead shows. “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
- Mississippi Half-Step
- It’s All Over Now
- High Time
- Mexicali Blues
- Big River
- When Push Comes to Shove
- Box of Rain
- Don’t Ease Me In
- Crazy Fingers
- Uncle John’s Band
- Playin’ in the Band
- Drums > Space
- I Need a Miracle
- Maggie’s Farm
- Black Peter
- Around and Around
- Turn on Your Love Light
- Black Muddy River