Furthur recently played three nights in a row at the incredibly astounding Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO and I was fortunate enough to attend two of the shows (Saturday 09.25.10 and Sunday 09.26.10). Just as I may have suspected, my experience was incredible, and synchronized, and beautiful….and wonderful.
I am a lucky, lucky girl.
At first I only planned to go to Sunday’s show because it wasn’t sold out and I had budgeted for a ticket. But I woke up Saturday and heard Red Rocks calling my name. I had nothing else planned for the day, it was absolutely gorgeous outside and there I was, only 20 miles from the venue. I contemplated the chances of me getting handed a miracle (free) ticket from some generous head, and assumed my chances were low. After all, it was a Saturday night FURTHUR show at RED ROCKS, and that’s a prrretty big deal in this social circle…
Saturday morning actually didn’t start out so great for me, but it’s exactly how it was supposed to be. I woke up with a slight hangover and realized for the first time in my life, I lost my wallet while out debaucherizing the night before. I called the last establishment I frequented Friday night, which just so happened to be a Grateful Dead themed bar called Sancho’s in Denver.
“Hi, I’m calling because I hope I left my wallet there last night. It’s red…with a white cross…like Switzerland……” (Side note: I got my wallet in Switzerland in 2005 and have used it ever since and refuse to get a new wallet until I get back there to buy one myself.)
“Yup. It’s here,” the bartender said.
I couldn’t believe my luck. I told him I loved him and would be down soon to pick it up. I think Jerry pulled some strings for me with that one. (If Jerry were here, he’d want me to have a miracle…)
As I was approaching Sancho’s I started to see some people in Grateful Dead tye-dyes that I assumed were heading to the show, and it gave me good vibes. After retrieving my wallet I was waiting to cross the street outside the bar and I began talking with a circle of people that were going to Red Rocks and they offered me a sober ride to and from the venue.
I didn’t take the ride, but I think the whole Sancho’s experience totally made me decide to at least go to the venue and TRY for a miracle, if nothing else it would be fun and entertaining. I was going with the “you only live once” motto, as do Phil and Bobby….
I headed to the venue solo and when I very first got there I was ushered into a parking lot and suddenly thought maybe I would scratch the whole idea and leave because I had slight anxiety about being there by myself. I drove out of the lot and started to head toward the venue exit but then decided to pull over on the side of the park road and think for a minute. I felt much more comfortable once I was parked on the side of the road and out of the crowded lot (easy access if I ended up leaving early), and I decided I might as well give the miracle thing a try since I was there and happy with my parking spot. Funny because after I decided I would stay a thought passed through my mind that later in the night I would say to myself, “I can’t believe I almost left.”
I had made a colorful and glittery sign especially for the show that said, “I would love a miracle” and planned to walk around holding that. I didn’t want to straight up ASK anyone for a free ticket, and I didn’t want to walk around with my finger in the air. I chose to write “I would love a miracle” instead of “I need a miracle” but I really didn’t NEED it whatsoever, I just really wanted to be at the show and couldn’t really swing it, plus I recently drove 1800 miles from New Jersey to be here and I fucking love the music and I just thought I should probably be at the show and maybe someone else would feel the same. And yup, I was right.
The very first “friends” I made were parked only three cars down from me and their genuine conversation quickly squashed any bad thoughts I was having about being there by myself. Plus they gave me a couple pulls of whiskey, and that always helps make the women and men start lookin’ good…
I walked around for about 2 hours with my sign. A lot of people looked at it and liked it, a few took pictures, and multiple people assured me I would get my miracle, but nobody offered a ticket. At one point someone suggested I head down to the will call / box office and said that might be my best bet to find someone with an extra. I got a ride down the hill and stood for a little while where cars were entering the park. There were a couple other people looking for miracles in this spot, including Pete from Detroit and Kate in the orange dress. I talked with both of them while waiting around, then said goodbye, wished them luck and headed back to my car…
By the time I walked back to my car it was almost show time and I pretty much decided no way I was getting a free ticket, so I loaded up my purse and decided I would hike a hill behind the amphitheater where people sit to listen to the music, even though I heard mixed reviews about whether or not the hike is worth it. I walked across a parking lot toward the path to the hill and I was so close to it, within throwing distance, when these two men at their car, pretty much the last two people I was going to see before getting to the path, said hello and said something about flying in from New York for the shows and how excited they were to be at Red Rocks for their first time. I told them I was from New Jersey and we started talking and shooting the sh*t….I showed them my miracle sign and told them I was going to hike the hill and they suggested I attempt to get into the show with them. I was down for the try. The men told me to board a shuttle bus with them that they had special passes for that drove us right up the big hill and let us out next to the stage. I was so nervous when I got out of the shuttle and saw there was a woman scanning tickets, but the men insisted I would get in. While they stalled the ticket scanner getting their own tickets out of an envelope, a married couple that was in the shuttle helped to shield me and I snuck past ticket lady and ran into the venue. I was in! Victory! Complete elation! I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited! I gave the woman who shielded me a big hug and showed her my sign and told her how grateful I was and she said her and her husband had seen me earlier in the day with the sign and they commented on it and she was happy she helped get me into the show!
Within five minutes of being in there I made a show buddy, Mike from Portland, AND saw Pete from Detroit. Seeing Pete really helped set off the night; knowing that he got in, too. What a beautiful buzz.
During entire first set Mike from Portland and I were standing with two guys who I thought were his friends, because it seemed like we were all singing and dancing together to the groovy tunes, but it turned out he didn’t know them, either. But I will never forget something that happened between the four of us. It was during the song “Viola Lee Blues” (which need I mention I love?) The band sang the lyric, “I wrote a letter, I mailed it in the air, you may know by that I’ve got a friend somewhere!” And all four of us looked at each other, and we were all belting out hearts out and raised our voices and arms to the air. It was amazing. I felt the love so strong, that’s why I could have sworn they were all friends! It was great. It was fuckin’ great.
Wanna know what else was great? When they played “Sitting on Top of the World”. It’s another song I’ve always had a special thing for but have rarely heard live, and to hear it at freakin’ Red Rocks Amphitheater, when you really do feel as though you are sitting on top of the (Denver metro) world, was just phenomenal. They also played “Cumberland Blues” which is a song I have always heard ring true in my soul and I was simply delighted, because to me at that moment on that night it meant even more than it ever has before. I felt as though I have finally made the change I wanted and needed to make, even though I am constantly second guessing myself. I just needed the gold old boys to tell me everything was going to be OK.
As it turned out, one of my friends that loves to make fun of me for loving Grateful Dead ended up with a backstage VIP pass to the show so during intermission Mike from Portland and I went to meet him in row 7 and that’s where I stayed for the remainder of the concert. I never even left my spot to go to the bathroom, and that is pretty impressive for me. Being in row 7 was amazing, it actually wasn’t as crowded as I may have expected and I had a fantastic view of the band.
After thrilling me with “I know You Rider” the band busted into “Terrapin Suite”, and once again I was beside myself, to hear my all time favorite ballad, a song that sparks up a slew of reflections and recollections for me, from row 7 at Red Rocks Amphitheater at a show I got in for free because I wanted it that bad…yes, my soul was pleased. Plus I had my terrapin turtle necklace on, a gift from a friend several years ago that I haven’t spoken to recently who just so happened to e-mail me Monday after the shows. It was meant to be. I was also very happy to hear “Stella Blue” and “The Other One”. I thought hearing “The Other One” was slightly ironic because lyrics from that song are painted on the walls inside the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR, and that is where my show buddy was from. Also, the only time I’ve been to the Crystal Ballroom I was with my friend that had the backstage pass…
The entire day really turned into such a great experience, definitely a top favorite memory. In fact, as time goes on I am sure it will end up meaning more to me than I even know right now, and I think I will leave it at that.
And then there was Sunday.
I went to the Sunday show with two other east coast / Denver transients and it was a much more relaxed day. A Sunday dusk dead show. Very chill. This show was great because my friend and I both ran into some surprise faces. First we were parked only three cars down from people he had camped and hung out with at The Gorge. Then when we were in line to get in the show I turned around and there were a couple people I knew from New Jersey potluck dinners right behind me. Inside the venue I saw a guy I knew from Chicago, another friend from Summit County, Kate in the orange dress and Pete from Detroit! I was happy to see Pete again and he hung with my crew all of second set.
At this show I was particularly happy with the encore, which was “Touch of Grey” and “Brokedown Palace”. Though “Touch of Grey” is a cliché Dead song, it is a song I listened to on repeat this summer from the day I decided I was going to hightail it out to the Rockies until the day I left town. The song gave me strength to get out here, and since I followed through with my plan, Furthur played the song for me at Red Rocks. “Leap, and a net will appear.” (Am I mentally ill?)
Listening to “Brokedown Palace” kind of got me thinking about the big picture of the Grateful Dead scene I have taken part in the past eight years. I thought about how I saw my first big show at Alpine Valley, WI in 2002, and now I was seeing two of the original, yet now 70 year old members of the Grateful Dead at Red Rocks, and wow, they are looking old. Here I am very far from my home, making an attempt at some type of independent life, and I had the opportunity to see the music I love at an incredible venue, and I took advantage of it. If it’s the last time I see the band, I would be happy. Start and end with a bang, with a few good shakedowns in between. I’m not trying to sound morbid or pessimistic here, I’m just saying they’re getting old, and they closed a three day run at Red Rocks with “Brokedown Palace”. Think of it what you will.
….Mama, mama many worlds I’ve come since I first left home….