Today In Grateful Dead History: June 29, 1976 – Auditorium Theater, Chicago, IL

stealie This show is basically a cross between the almost-too-laid-back Beacon Theater show on June 15th and the pulsating experimental masterpiece from Portland on June 3rd.  The first set strangely opens with Tennessee Jed and also contains one of the better (and one of the only) Grateful Dead versions of the Jerry Band staple Mission in the Rain.  The definite highlight of the first set, and I say this with a gulp because they’re not favorite songs by a long shot, is Lazy Lightning / Supplication.  I think the slower ’76 pace helps this song, which can get a little unwieldy in ’77 – ’79, and the band takes full advantage of the space to throw down a jazzy exploration that doesn’t run out of gas before the end.

The Samson & Delilah and Candyman that start the second set never really get going and the band takes an almost four minute pause to collect itself before launching into a truly psychedelic 35 minute Playin’ in the Band>The Wheel>Playin’ in the Band.  The playing on The Wheel is particularly fierce and shows off everything that the Dead are capable of at this point in their career – intricate back and forth musical conversations with nary a false note.  This exploration is followed by a pretty sloppy St. Stephen>Not Fade Away>St. Stephen.  However, there is a passage of bliss midway through Not Fade Away where Jerry and Keith coordinate their runs and the drummers quiet down behind them, making the tune much more subtle and therefore more powerful.

I think that this is a pretty average show from 1976, but the highlights are interesting and worth a listen.  You can hear the soundboard here:


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