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June 12, 1984

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Morrison, Colorado
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The Dead played amongst the gorgeous ancient sedimentary structures at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on this day in 1984. And, boy, what a night it was. Alabama Getaway rips the gates open, energetically segueing into GSET, with Bobby feverishly singing while the rest of the boys - Brent and Jerry leading the way - blister along. Friend of the Devil, delicious and uptempo comes out next before a zesty, swaggering Rooster. The Rooster hits some magnificent heights with the combination of wailing organ, guitar, and slide, sending chills through the audience, who respond in kind. The energy and vibes continue on Big River and a Bobby cowboy tune double-shot of MAMU> Mexicali. Then Jerry launches into Althea and the crowd once again erupts. The song features some great fills from Bobby, who returns to the slide. But the real attraction is Jerry’s resplendent solos, adding depth and magic to the tune, as always. An emotional Looks Like Rain follows, and then Might As Well closes the set on a rocking note.

The boys send a few notes of Scarlet out while tuning up for the second half, raising hesitant cheers from the audience that are followed by raucous screaming when Jerry sings out the first line. Phil bombs along through the song, punctuating Jerry’s rich and trippy runs. A lengthy, uptempo jam transitions Scarlet into a fast-paced, glowing Touch. Estimated comes next, rocking some reggae-infused funk, but so fast at times that the boys are almost tripping over themselves. Bobby’s vocals are full of life, and they help ground the frenetic version before it sizzles into Eyes. The Eyes is similarly frenzied, everyone rushing headlong before finally turning things over to Mickey and Billy. On the other side of Drums> Space, an indomitable Other One emerges, as the band streaks down the road, only slowing things up for Wharf Rat. Here, the playing and vocals are mesmerizing, but it is also just a relief to catch a breath after the breakneck pace of the set. But there is no rest for the weary - acid-addled or otherwise - as the Dead gain steam in the latter half of the tune, leading into a rocking Around and Around> Johnny B. Goode to close things out. A similarly high energy U.S. Blues encore caps the night.

The open-air amphitheater at Red Rocks opened all the way back in 1941. At an altitude of 6,450 feet, it is one of the highest venues in the country. The Dead played a total of twenty shows amongst the overhanging rocks and outcrops. They probably would have played more shows there earlier in the 70s - the Dead’s first date at the Rocks was in ’78 - had the police not responded with tear gas to gate crashers at a Jethro Tull concert in 1971. At the time, the wind blew the gas right back over the police, into the paying crowd, and onto the stage. What became known as “the Riot at Red Rocks” led the city of Denver to ban rock concerts for the next five years. On the flip side, the Dead played their last stand at the venue in August ’87, right as the popularity of Touch and In the Dark made it impossible for the boys to frequent relatively smaller venues like Red Rocks with its 9525 capacity.

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