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Dead of the Day: August 2, 1976

Colt Park
Hartford, Connecticut
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There is only one other extant show from this day in Dead history, a tasty little nugget from 1969 at the Great Highway. But our Dead of the Day comes from 1976 at Colt Park in Hartford. Promised Land busts out of the gate with so much energy, putting the show on a solid footing from the very beginning. The Mississippi Half Step that comes next keeps it going with Jerry’s pregnant guitar licks set off by Phil’s bass and the excellent work from the drummers. A quick Mama Tried and a solid Deal roll out before the band hits the first notes of Cassidy, sending a couple people in the audience into a frenzy. The song turns out to be quite good, but the howling from those people in the crowd make it particularly memorable. Jerry lights up the Tennessee Jed that rolls out afterwards, making some beautifully ungodly sounds with his guitar. The rest of the first set continues to blister with the boys laying it on perfectly. For instance, just listen to Jerry and Bobby roaring away on Minglewood. But the second set is really where the fireworks are, starting with the Might As Well that brings us out of the break. The boys start hammering a rocking jam about halfway through the tune and just continue the rest of the way out and into Samson. The Samson keeps the relentless intensity as the Dead powerfully blast through the song. Things finally slow up a bit with the Candyman, but the boys do not slack up at all on the playing. After Candyman, a heady Playin’ In The Band comes forth. It quickly heads off into spacey territory as the boys go off searching for the sound, arriving, more than once, at some incredible moments. But eventually, the boys slide into a luscious Wharf Rat, which moves grandly through the verses before setting off on its own jam deep into the heart of the Wharf Rat theme. But the band transitions into another jam after about ten minutes, which is just as tasty. Before long, it becomes clear that Phil and Bobby seem to be driving it towards some distant point of light while Jerry just noodles away in sparkling fashion. That point they were heading for turns out to be Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad, which becomes a joyous upwelling of more righteous jamming before arriving right back where it all began, Playin’ In The Band. The Playin’ continues the exploration and then sends it into a rocking Around And Around to close out the set.

At the back of the venue, there were two rows of wooden fencing with security – Hell’s Angels – beating up anyone who tried to hop them. Eventually, the Heads trying to bust into the show got enough of getting their noodles busted and set parts of the fence on fire. As the show ended, the Hartford Fire Department was roaring onto the field and the police cut the power to the stage. The next year, the Dead would return to Hartford, but they would play the rest of their 18 shows in the city at the Hartford Civic Center. 

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