I wait with excited and eager anticipation to enjoy the final fare-thee-well festivities in Soldier Field, the final run of the Grateful Dead. A great deal has been said already about the quality of the shows in Santa Clara and the imminent ones in Chicago. While some of the close and critical analyses do matter, it is easy to get lost in the mundane en route to the phenomenal, to what some believe to be the transcendent.
Only a select few musicians and musical groups and characters and contexts such as the Grateful Dead have had the capacity and creativity to initiate communitas in so many, so consistently, and with such tremendous transformative impact.
That communitas moment, that indescribably indescribable state of mind, that die-hard Deadheads are forever craving, seeking, and sometimes even satisfying may be a product of, or enhanced by, psychotropics (or not), and it may be experienced but for a fleeting moment. For some it is endured and enjoyed for many hours after the show has ended. No matter what, the ideal Dead show is where such an experience is possible, is made possible, and can and does occur.
A great Dead show is one where the participant becomes a stranger to her and himself, when the transcendent moment forces the participant to confront and question all presuppositions, when the participant allows or even just permits the musicians, the music and fellow concert goers to facilitate that experience. I wait with eager anticipation and hopes.
I get the feeling that I am going to find out real soon. It's been more than 20 years since I've seen the Dead and this run is going to be very strange indeed. But that sense of strangeness, that feeling is anticipatory and preparatory for what could be a long, long, crazy, crazy night (three to be exact) in the Windy City with the Grateful Dead.
You know It's gonna get stranger, let's get on with the show!