What a long, strange trip it has been
One thing that cannot be replicated virtually is live music. Sure, it was interesting to see performers in the comfort of their home playing music on Instagram Live, but quite obviously, it is completely incomparable to in-person concerts. St. Louis has some amazing performance venues, and I’m so glad to see that they are taking precautions to allow the concert experience to finally happen.
I recently attended a concert put on by Dead and Company, the branch-off band of the original Grateful Dead, at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater. With three original members, including frontman Bob Weir, the band still holds their classic 60’s hippie-rock vibe. John Mayer accompanies Weir at front stage on guitar and vocals, and Oteil Burbridge takes the bass.
Luckily, this concert was outside, so we were able to socially distance in the open air. While I was still hesitant to go to big events like this, I can confidently say that I felt safe with the precautions taken to prioritize people’s health. All attendees were required to have a vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 48 hours — they even had on-site rapid testing. My only issue was getting into the actual theater. There were two people responsible for checking COVID-19 cards, which caused a traffic jam of angry hippies.
Despite this chaos, I was able to get in and spread out a big picnic blanket — specifically, the free one we got from the University. We had so much space to just lounge around and absorb the mere talent that we were in the presence of. They played a ton of classic Grateful Dead hits that got the crowd singing and dancing, including “Terrapin Station,” “Shakedown Street,” “U.S. Blues” and, of course, “Sugar Magnolia.”
Things were going really well until the intermission, when an ambulance and flashing lights pulled up. While there is no evidence that anything was wrong with Weir, I couldn’t help but think of how old and frail he is now. It’s physically straining for any person to perform a concert, so, unfortunately, this was a legitimate thought in the back of my mind. Not to mention, the intermission was much longer than expected, so you can’t blame me for being a little concerned.
My mind was settled when I saw Weir jump back up on stage like he was in his 20s again. The second set was an absolute party. All of the members really let their solo talents show. As always, Mayer outdid himself on the electric guitar. Despite his youth, he fits in so well with the other iconic musicians. Jeff Chimenti let loose on the variety of keyboards and reminded listeners just how unique Dead and Company’s sound is.
This concert was the perfect reintroduction to live music. It had all of the components of a great concert despite the extra precautionary measures. Although this opinion may be biased, I feel like Dead and Company is the ideal band for this re-emergence as well. As a group that promotes unity, peace and camaraderie, it really felt like things were fine in the world for a moment. All of the members were barefoot and had no other intentions besides rocking and spreading joy; this is what we need right now. On this random Tuesday night at a janky amphitheater, I was able to simply relax and just soak in the good energy — something that comes few and far between nowadays.