About four minutes into “Feel Like a Stranger,” the first song of the night, a man sitting a few rows in front of me stood up, looked at his friend, and pointed back towards everyone behind him while he proclaimed “Most of these people have no idea how cool this is! This is a once in a lifetime experience.” While the statement may have been fueled by a moment of drunken euphoria, only the second half of it was correct. I had never been to a Grateful Dead or Dead & Co concert before, but the moment I stepped through the gates at Folsom Field it quickly became clear that this concert would provide a memorable night.
The atmosphere of the Sunday night Dead & Co concert couldn’t have been more representative of the legacy of this band and the wide-ranging appeal of the compelling sound they create. The people attending the show ranged from babies with fuzzy earmuffs to those donning Grateful Dead gear from head-to-toe who had experienced countless concerts throughout the past few decades. Having never been to a Dead show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of my fellow concert goers; what I found was a profound sense of community between almost everyone at the venue. Regardless of age, background, or level of Dead & Co fandom, every person in the crowd seemed to have a joyous attachment to the music and the show-going experience that Dead & Co created.
Speaking of emotive expressions, John Mayer’s strained (occasionally painful) facial expressions throughout his performance didn’t seem to reflect joy, but they definitely reflect his devotion to the music he played. Some musical highlights from the concert for me included “Friend of the Devil,” “I Know You Rider,” and “Fire on the Mountain.”
My main takeaway from the show was the passion on display throughout the small stadium. From the performers on the stage to the people standing on the field who danced endlessly for no less than four and a half hours that night, the entire venue was filled with a passion for this band and the timeless music they have produced.