Without a doubt, our Dead of the Day is February 9, 1973 at Stanford University’s Roscoe Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, California. Not only is the show historic, with seven first time playeds and the debut of the proto Wall of Sound, but it has some very good moments and a wicked setlist. With the new sound system, the band encountered a host of technical problems, including blowing out all the tweeters as Promised Land just got started, kicking off the first set. They also clearly had difficulty hearing themselves on the stage, especially in the first set. Still, this show is one for the ages with a spectacular They Love Each Other and smoking Truckin’. The fact that the They Love Each Other was one of the debuts is just amazing, but many of the other new tunes – Here Comes Sunshine, Row Jimmy, Loose Lucy, Wave that Flag, China Doll, and Eyes of the World – came out as stunners as well. There is also a beer-barrel polka for those aficionados.
The February 9th show opened 1973 for the band, six days before they began their tour in earnest out in the Midwest. The year would prove to be one of the best for the Grateful Dead as they honed a new style, encompassing their earlier psychedelic, blues, and Americana, but adding a purposeful, exploratory jamming to the mix that really became, all mixed together, the heart and soul of the Dead sound.
Named after the major donor who funded the project, the Roscoe Maples Pavilion, primarily constructed for basketball, had only been open for three years when the Dead came storming into it. The central floor, where the basketball court resided, was designed to be slightly springy, to protect athletes from hard landings. Once the heads started dancing at the show, the floor began undulating with the movement, making for a strange and wavy feeling that more than one person mistook for the effects of drugs.
Just before the beginning of the second set, Wavy Gravy gives a little rap about raising money to replace the Bach Mai hospital in Vietnam. During Operation Linebacker II, a massive aerial bombardment of North Vietnam in late 1972, the hospital was leveled by bombs intended for the Bach Mai airfield. Eventually, donations, many coming from the American left and peace movement, helped rebuild the facility.