Any time you can get a show from 1966, you have something special on your hands. And true to form, our Dead of the Day from February 25, 1966, is a truly awesome piece of early Grateful Dead sound and history. Each song on here is a spectacular gem, sparkling beautifully as you turn it around in your mind. The heavy blues sound of Next Time You See Me makes you realize there were multiple other Dead incarnations before the psychedelic sound of the later 1960s. For its part, Rider has more than a bit of that high lonesome sound that Garcia was searching for in his early sixties bluegrass days. Hey Little One is like some sweet Beach Boys tune, but with a hard, hide your daughter sort of edge. By the time the Cold Rain & Snow comes around, the familiar 1960s psychedelic Dead is lurking, to emerge even more fully developed in the King Bee> Caution, the latter of which is a highlight even amongst this unbelievable set. Throughout the night, the playing from each member is fantastic, but it becomes clear that Pigpen is the real face of the band at this point, dishing out deep, even scary vocals that set the tone for Garcia’s picking, the rolling mania of Billy, and Phil’s low-down bass. And then suddenly Pig’s harp comes in to really bring the down home, dark and smoky blues sound that reverberates through the show and, together with his vocals, will haunt your thoughts in the coming days.
While the Ivar Theater’s history is not quite as multifaceted as the Dead’s, you might just want to hide your daughters from it as well. In the heart of Hollywood just a block off Hollywood and Vine, the Ivar opened in 1951 as a 350-seat legitimate playhouse. By the early 1960s, the Ivar had fallen far enough that it would willingly host a band of questionable repute and untested talent like the Grateful Dead of 1966. In the late sixties, the Ivar transitioned to a burlesque house, on its way to becoming a full-nude, unabashedly tawdry strip joint. It is worth reading the write-up about the Ivar from drkrm, a photographic processor and gallery that put on an exhibition of work shot at the theater.
And while you should totally listen to the back end of this recording, note that track 9 is reportedly from summer 1966 and tracks 10-12 are from sometime in the fall of '66.
Other February 25th Shows and Recordings:
- 1967 - Fillmore Auditorium - San Francisco, CA - unknown setlist, not on Archive
- 1990 - Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum - Oakland, CA
- 1994 - Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum - Oakland, CA
- 1995 - Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum - Oakland, CA