Today In Grateful Dead History: December 30, 1990 – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA

terrapinSometimes you pick shows based on the setlist alone and today’s stood out from the pack with a good looking second set that didn’t disappoint once I listened to it.

I typically listen to these shows the first time on plug-in computer speakers that aren’t very good, but they offer a fair representation of the show.  On today’s recording, I had a really hard time discerning Bruce in the mix, although on headphones it’s a little easier.  Normally this can happen when Vince is playing over everyone else in the band, but today it was just a balance problem, with Bruce turned down lower than the other musicians.  This isn’t a terrible issue, but if you’re a Bruce fan, you’re going to need to look for a different recording of this show.

As I said before, I picked this show based on the second set songs, so I wasn’t expecting much from the first half, which was good because nothing very interesting happened.  This was truly a warm up set, because the second half of this show was hot, as you can tell from the band’s playing on the set opening Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.  After Looks Like Rain, we’re given a nicely done Crazy Fingers that runs into an almost twenty minute Playin’ in the Band.  This Playin’ is intense from the get go and it wanders all over the musical map – loud and soft, jazzy and rocky, but definitely good throughout.  It’s the highlight of the second set.  Drums / Space takes over from there and then we get to a fairly rare post-Drums Terrapin Station that is pretty loose but entertaining.  The jam out at the end moves nicely into what sounded a lot like the start of The Wheel or Give Me Some Lovin’ but turned out to be a good take on Sugar Magnolia.  It was fun to hear the Dead argue between themselves musically over the direction they would choose, even if the transition gets bumpy at times.

If you’re pressed for time, you can definitely skip the first set and get straight to the heart of the second, where the goodies dwell.  Listen here:


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