Today’s show is one of several California shows from the summer of 1991 that all tend to blend together for me. I’ve already written about the August 17th and 18th shows at Shoreline, and neither one of those nights was anything special. The same goes for today – there’s nothing really wrong with this show, but there’s not a lot of liftoff either.
The first set is short – I’m counting maybe 52 minutes of music, which for the Dead isn’t that much. And nothing goes on of any real import during that first set.
It started to rain during this show, which is unusual in Sacramento in August, so the Dead come out for the second set with a trio of rain songs – Cold Rain and Snow, Box Of Rain and Looks Like Rain. Of the three, Looks Like Rain is the best, if you like Looks Like Rain. Following this, you get the jammiest part of the evening – it begins with a fairly standard Crazy Fingers (“Your rain falls like crazy fingers” makes our 4th rain reference in a row) that leads into a pretty jazzy Estimated Prophet. But it’s more of a noodling piano bar type of jazz instead of the fusion powerhouse that this song could be in better iterations. A quick jam leads into Uncle John’s Band, which is one of the few Dead songs I prefer to hear on the studio album and tonight is no exception, although they do better with it than they usually do in the 90’s. Following Drums/Space, The Other One tries but doesn’t really get there and neither does the Wharf Rat that follows. After another piano bar rendition of Around and Around, we have a sloppy Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door encore that is worth hearing for Bruce’s accordion and not much else – how’s that for an endorsement?
I realize that this comes off as a pretty negative review. The playing is not terrible here, but as far as Dead shows go – even Dead shows in 1991 – this one is pretty boring. Jerry is definitely not blasting out solos and the rest of the boys are just grooving behind him limply. It was probably still fun to be there.