Lindley Meadows was the anti-Egypt. A chilly patch of grass in the middle of the afternoon is–in a mystical and occulty way–the opposite of the foot of the Great Pyramid during a lunar eclipse; very little magick can be summoned in a public park with the sun up. Egypt’s tickets were close enough to free, but it cost a thousand bucks to get there, while Lindley was perfectly free and you could take public transportation. But primarily, the Egypt shows were important, maaaaaaan, and they utterly whiffed ’em to the point of hiding the tapes, whereas Lindley was a tossed-off lark that produced a little over 90 minutes of the most beautiful music this band of hairy idiots ever made.
I wrote that Egypt was the Grateful Deadest thing that the Grateful Dead ever did, but I may have been wrong. It could be 9/28/75. There could be no act more Grateful Deadish than playing what can be argued as your best show while the band technically didn’t exist. And under a different name, too: the Dead were billed as “Jerry Garcia & Friends.” This may have been to pull a quick one on the Town Fathers, who might not have issued the permits if they thought too many folks would show up.
Too many folks didn’t show up. Just the right amount showed up.
One paper said it was 25,000, and the other one said it was 50; the cops declined to weigh in with an official estimate. There are many humans, let’s just agree on that.
Keith’s Fender Rhodes piano (his staple instrument that year and an enormous part in 1975’s unique sound) is resting on a stage Parish and Ramrod and Precarious built out of plywood on top of a flatbed truck. The band has, like, ten amplifiers between them.
If this is your first encounter with this site, then let me welcome you. Come on in. Have a seat. Would you like drugs? Here’s what you need to know, noob: the Grateful Dead are a semi-defunct choogly-type band and they used every amplifier in the world. You see what’s going on in that picture? That’s bullshit. They might as well be playing acoustically. Just a year previous, the Dead had so many amplifiers that they became architecture.
Grateful Deads shouldn’t be taller than their amps. It’s just weird.
Also: it was freezing.
San Francisco is geographically in California, but meteorologically in Cascadia, and so it’s downright nippy by late September. It is always jacket weather, and rent is a million dollars a month, and there is human feces everywhere, and the whole city is going to suddenly liquefact any day now. The place is a nightmare.
Stop going on tirades about cities you’ve never visited.
I’ve never been to Chernobyl. Do I need to go there to have an opinion about it?
I wish you would go to Chernobyl.
Go to Chernobyl and get eaten by mutant wolfs.
I’m gonna get back to the topic.
You do that.
It was cold, but that didn’t stop Garcia from rocking. Look:
Sartorially, the Lindley show was a standout, too. Bobby’s Pendleton jacket and bell-bottoms, Phil’s college professor drag, and Garcia’s short-lived leather jacket/Pumas look.
It’s a good one.
You paying attention, John Mayer? How about you, Jonah Hill? That’s how men should dress. (Garcia would, almost immediately after this concert, begin wearing sweatpants and Zubaz and shapeless brownish loafers. But when he gave a shit, this is what he looked like.)
The question of how often the Dead played while tripping is often batted about, with the band usually sticking to the position of “Not as much as you’d think” and everyone else holding to “Quite a bit.” Clearly, they didn’t drop acid every night–that was the audience’s job–but, in the early days at least, they would invite the king up onstage with them every so often. Lindley is one of those shows.
And there’s the fact that numerous band members and roadies have all copped to it, PLUS the way Phil stutters at the beginning of Truckin’. The forced, pressured speech? That’s acid. Weed makes you drawl, and dope makes you whine, and booze makes you slur; acid makes you stutter.
Perhaps our friend Alice can be blamed for the plentitudinous lyrical pooching. Everyone gets in on it: Garcia tanks Franklin’s (as is customary) and mumbles his way through Must Have Been The Roses, and Bobby is Ruthian in his whiffing. Literally: he calls his shot before Truckin’ by telling the crowd he doesn’t remember the words, and then proves himself right.
These minor hiccoughs don’t matter; in fact, they make the show better. All the fuck-ups and the miscues and the lady having the baby. The Grateful Dead played human music, and there were mistakes and surprises and sometimes complete failures.
And sometimes there was Lindley Meadows.