Today in Grateful Dead History: June 19, 1980 – West High Auditorium, Anchorage, AK

Dancing Skeletons

Today is the first in a series of three concerts that the Grateful Dead played in a 2,000 seat high school auditorium in Anchorage, Alaska in 1980.  Now keep in mind, the band’s previous three shows took place at the Portland Memorial Coliseum (13,000 seats), the Seattle Center Coliseum (15,000 seats) and the Spokane Coliseum (8,500 seats), so it’s not like they were playing nightclubs during the summer of 1980.  So how did the Dead find their way up to a high school in Anchorage for three nights in front of a combined audience that didn’t equal the crowd in Spokane?  That, like many things about the Grateful Dead, remains spectacularly unclear.  (Although this article does set the scene pretty well).  Suffice it to say, the Dead’s only Alaska concerts make for an interesting story and for some good 1980 listening.

Today’s show is, in my opinion, the weakest of the three nights, but it’s still a fun show.  There are a couple of unusual second set quirks here.  First, we have one of five second set Peggy-O’s ever played out of a total of 264 performances of the song (not counting the ones that were played during the first electric set, and therefore the second overall set, of the three-set acoustic/electric shows in the fall of 1980), and it’s a good version with a sparkling Jerry solo.  We also have one of only 11 second set C.C. Riders out of a total of 127 played.  This one is also interesting, with Brent leading the way.  So, strange things were in the air in Alaska.

The rest of the night is straightforward 1980 Grateful Dead with minimal jamming.  There is some cool soloing on The Music Never Stopped to close the first set, and Jerry rocks on Althea, as usual, but, beyond that, things are pretty dialed down tonight.  Sound problems mar China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider, and everything else in the second set is pretty blase, except for the playing near the end of Wharf Rat, which is good.  But if you think of this as the warmup night, you can catch snippets of where we’ll be going later on in the week.

Till then, listen to the soundboard (with many patches) here:


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