Dead & Company | Chula Vista, CA | Review
Dead & Company visited the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Chula Vista, CA on Wednesday (7/27/16), which marked their final Southern California stop and their last performance ahead of the tour closing shows in Wheatland, CA (Fri 7/29/16) and tonight at the fabled Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA (Sat 7/30/16). The excitement of the fans in the hours leading up to the show was palpable, if not audible, as the previous night’s show at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater had left an indelible mark on those in attendance. Discussions of what had and hadn’t been played reverberated throughout Shakedown Street, and the theoretical philosophy of what would or wouldn’t be played in the evening’s coming performance could be heard from one conversation to another. The common theme amongst those in attendance, as is the usual tenor of any Grateful Dead related show, was excitement and anticipation regarding the evening’s performance.
Dead & Company took the stage just prior to sunset and while the incoming crowd struggled to get through the gates on time, Bob Weir lead the band on the Mardi-Gras tinged “Aiko Aiko”, its first performance since SPAC more than a month prior, and it certainly got the juices flowing for those that had been able to get in despite some lyrical issues that resulted in a jovial interaction between Bob and the crowd. “Minglewood Blues” gave keyboardist Jeff Chimenti a chance to shine with a raving solo during the interlude. The starting notes of “Candyman” elicited quite an acknowledgement from the crowd, as this was only its second performance of the tour and the first in over a month, and was performed masterfully. An up-tempo version of Johnny Cash’s “Big River” followed and saw Jeff and John Mayer alternate riveting solos between verses. The tempo was pulled back a bit for a heartfelt “Friend of the Devil” where Bob and Jon shared vocal duties on the Grateful Dead classic. The RatDog original “Even So” was also performed for just the second time in a nod to Rob Wasserman, a friend and compatriot of the Grateful Dead family who had passed away earlier in the month. John lead the boys through a swinging “Sugaree” that gave way to the classic set-closer “The Music Never Stopped”.
The second set started out with a jazzy jam that has become a staple for Dead & Company to lead into “Truckin’”. As the crowd had gotten to share their last “What a long, strange trip it’s been” of the night, the beginning chords of “Althea” was met with an uproarious response as the tune has become one of John’s strongest numbers. A trip to California can’t be complete without at least one “Estimated Prophet” and the band chose this evening to unroll the Terrapin Station classic, which rolled right into Bob’s “Playin’ in the Band”. The Rhythm Devils, drummers Billy Kruetzmann and Mickey Hart, treated the crowd to the psychedelic exploration portion of the evening with assistance from bassist Oteil Burbridge during “Drums”, which has grown into a monster segment of Dead & Company shows. The rest of the band returned to contribute to “Space” before dropping right back into “Playin’ in the Band (Reprise)”. The foot stomping Henry Whitter tune “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” concluded the longest successive jam of the evening in the second set and saw those sporting the “Let Oteil Sing” shirts wishes come true as he shared lead vocal duties with both Bob and John. Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" continued the trend of Dylan songs being played on the summer tour and the slower pace opened the door for the set-closer “Throwing Stones”, which came with some extra space-funk thrown to close things out. The show closed with a fervent, John-led “Black Muddy River” encore, as the crowd ironically shared in the exiting chorus “And sing me a song on my own”.
The crowd showered the band with adoring applause as the members joined arm-in-arm for a bow, then walked off the stage as the cheers continued to echo throughout the warm Chula Vista night-air. Everyone was then shepherded in their respective directions, whether to tackle the typical post show traffic, find lost friends, or head back to Shakedown Street for a grilled cheese and a water before heading home. The Dead & Company conclude their Summer 2016 tour with shows on Friday (Wheatland, CA) and Saturday (Mountain View, CA). From there we are all left to wait and hope for news of their next tour. Maybe it will be a West Coast Fall Tour, maybe an East Coast Winter Tour, maybe a New Year’s Run. One thing is for sure; there will be interested parties throughout the country waiting on the next announcement.