Over the years, February 4th has seen some wicked Dead shows, but the 1969 concert at the Music Box in Omaha, Nebraska is our Dead of the Day. There really are no highlights to the show because the entire night is off the hook. While the boys had not yet hit the apogee of their psychedelic sound – that would come later in 1969 – they still wail on this evening. The Caution has to be one of the best ever with the vocal and instrumental vamping resonating the sound of a funky, hallucinogenic train rolling by on the tracks. Further, the Dark Star> Stephen> Eleven is on par with just about any other example of that classic trifecta.
The February 4, 1969 show was smack in the middle of a frenetic seven concert in eight days stretch, taking the Dead across the Midwest from Chicago, westward to Nebraska by way of Minneapolis, then south to Kansas City before hauling east through St. Louis and on to Pittsburgh. If anything, though, those long miles seemed to have melded the Dead into even more of a seething, mind-melting, psychedelic steamroller of a band than usual.
The venue itself was built amidst the Great Depression, in 1936. Omaha’s Music Box held 900 people and included a bowling alley (it is not known if anyone was playing, or even sliding down the lanes, during the show). The Dead would play there again just two months later in April of ’69. Unfortunately, the building was razed in 1980.