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Saturday, July 10, 2010

1982 October 9 - Frost Amphitheatre

Saturday, October 9, 1982
Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford University - Palo Alto, CA
Audience Recording

Amidst the backdrop of a jaw-droppingly sensational outdoor audience recording and a blisteringly clear representation of exactly what 1982 sounded like, here we are treated to something of a legendary performance by the Grateful Dead out of this all-too-often forgotten corner of the early 80's. The little two night stand at the Frost Amphitheatre in October 1982 has always been a pretty popular go-to set of shows from this year. Interestingly, as I return to this particular show after nearly a decade I am struck less by the way the band brings the roof down with some colossal psychedelic force, and much more by the way in which this performance exceeds expectation through intricate subtleties that may pass unnoticed by a less attentive ear.

In this quality, I think this show exudes something of the inherent intoxicating power of the early 80's altogether. I wonder if it might take a more travelled set of ears down the Grateful Dead road to truly hear this substratum of musical magic. Is it something akin to an advanced calculus class that would go completely over the head of someone yet to learn basic algebra? Is it fair to compare more classic Grateful Dead from the 60's and 70's to a basic level math class? I may be treading into dangerous waters with this analogy. Suffice it to say I will take it on as the duty of the Grateful Dead Listening Guide to draw your attention to this show specifically in an effort to make sure you come face to face with this potent yet infinitely subtle psychedelic tapestry. The night is alive with Technicolor sun streams and rivers of floating fractals, elements sitting just below the normally unassuming air. In the same way that 1976 tends to hide an infinite world of swirling detail just beyond the obvious scene before you, this show reveals riches hidden behind trees others may have neglected to peer around.

Set 1: Alabama Getaway > Greatest Story Ever Told, They Love Each Other, On The Road Again > Beat It On Down The Line, West L. A. Fade Away, Me & My Uncle > Big River, Dupree's Diamond Blues, The Music Never Stopped > Deal
Set 2: Throwing Stones > Touch Of Grey, Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums > Space > Truckin' > Other One > Morning Dew, One More Saturday Night E: U. S. Blues

A delightful and comfortable first set delivers several pleasures, not the least of which are the slippery and twisting paths of The Music Never Stopped and sizzling Deal to close the set off.

In set two, as the glittering caverns of Estimated Prophet's end jam begin to unfold before us, we are pulled from a simply sensational field recording made at the hands of Rango Keshavan, responsible for another equally stellar recording featured on the Guide, directly into a sonic landscape that commands a familiar singularity of experience. Individual boundaries dissolve and we are experiencing the music at what is instantly personal and universal at the same time. This time it comes in the working of subtle fingers. It's in the hidden interplay of rhythm between the drummers; the way the downbeat begins to snake in circles and echoing patterns. It's in the beautiful way that Garcia rises and falls. By the time they transition into Eyes of the World our hearts are lock step in time with the pulse of the band.

Jerry's solos in Eyes literally soar off the tape. They peak and dance and sparkle and shine with that joyful exuberance that so typifies the unbounded love deadheads have for the band. Place any fan into this passage of the show and they will begin to smile and sway, unable to remain focused on much else going on around them.

The post Drumz section of the show is what elevates this night into hallowed halls. With a Space that gorgeously swells and sways more than explodes and fractures, we segue nicely into Truckin'. The hints become more and more evident until we are bobbing along with the band directly into the song's unavoidable bounce. Truckin' cooks along and when Jerry hits a glorious high note at the crescendo of the song's massive build up, you can't help but giggle with contentment. Other One soon follows, and it builds out of its own quiet night shrouded ocean. Several minutes pass with the ebb and flow of the music. Here, were we only to be paying passing attention, the music could be said to be meandering aimlessly. Upon closer inspection however, one can discern reflections from the future of the music rippling backwards over us causing time to ripple and swirl. The anticipation of Phil's thundering bass roll, and the upcoming torrent of power soon to scorch the landscape around us is palpable. Once it hits, all bets are off and we cascade downhill in rivers of molten rock and crystal.

Out of Other One we arrive at Morning Dew, a song hard pressed not to elevate any second set to a higher level. And while this recording is so thoroughly fine that literally any moment can display the breathtaking clarity of sitting in the sweet spot, when we reach the beginning of the slowly building end portion of this song, this recording begins to pull our senses completely out of the physical sphere. As Jerry lightly plays a tinkling rainbow of melodies the recording surpasses all description. We are the music as it crashes into the sky and flutters back to earth like the streaming sparkler trails of fireworks.

Worthy of some dedicated listening, this show and its sister on the next night (which, by the way, is equally represented at the hand of our intrepid taper) provide us with a cornucopia of pleasures drawn directly from the heart of a subtly magic time in the band's performance history.

10/09/82 AUD etree source info
10/09/82 AUD Download

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