Dead & Company played their 100th show to a wondrous 20,000 people on Wednesday, June 20 at the grand Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The show was the band’s 13th show in part of their Summer 2018 tour.
I was not planning on attending the show until one of my friends told me he had an extra pavilion ticket for the 8th row for the second set. He said we could easily find a relatively cheap lawn ticket for the first set and indeed we did. This lenticular ticket is the prettiest one I own and it's only fair that I frame it.
When arriving at Blossom, thousands of Dead Heads were stacked up and down “Shakedown Street,” a long row of food, art and craft vendors from all walks of life. It looked like a festival just popped up for this one-night show. People held up their pointer finger in the air in hopes of receiving a ticket for the show just a couple hours away.
Once I treated myself to some homemade pierogies, my friends and I secured our spot on the lawn as John Mayer, Bob Weir, Oteil Burbridge, Mickey Hart, Jeff Chimenti and Bill Kreutzmann made their way onstage. They started off their 100th show with a funky “Feel Like a Stranger” with heavy grooves and lightful keyboard tones.
John Mayer serenaded the crowd next with “They Love Each Other” as Weir accompanied Mayer’s voice with melodic guitar harmonics. They slowed things down with “Row Jimmy” before bringing the energy back up with “West L.A. Fadeaway,” a definite favorite of the night.
Weir thanked the crowd for celebrating the 100th show with the band as they played “Loose Lucy” and then slipped into the From the Mars Hotel track “Ship of Fools” as Burbridge accompanied Mayer on vocals. They ended their first set with the powerful “Passenger,” leading the crowd into an energetic sing-a-long and ending fast dance.
Watch the opening of the first set below:
Making my way down to the pavilion, I was impressed with the structure of the pavilion, providing exceptional acoustics for such a miraculous musical group. While in my 8th row seat, I was able to clearly see the band as they strode onstage for the second set and began into “Lost Sailor” > “Saint of Circumstance.”
The band went into the bluesy “He’s Gone” as the crowd cheered the lyrics “Steal your face right off your head!” As the visuals behind the band displayed a psychedelic array of flowers, the band slipped into “Scarlet Begonias,” adding in spacey samples before “Fire on the Mountain” poured over the crowd as Burbridge took lead vocals on the second half of the popular song.
As the rest of the band took a much needed quick break, Hart and Kreutzmann took over the stage and started into their nightly “Drums/Space” routine, providing ambient sounds over the crowd before the rest of the band joined in to finish off “Space.”
The Beatles’ tune “Dear Prudence” made its mark on the crowd as Weir lead the crowd to an emotional harmonious sing-a-long before ending their set with the funky “Throwing Stones” to resonate the spirits in the crowd. After a quick exit off the stage, the band returned for a serene rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” for the centennial show’s encore.
I’m so blessed to have been a part of this musically historic show to share with dozens of thousands of others who share the same love for this incredible music. The love and togetherness that resonated throughout the crowd at this show is something that I will never forget and I hope that this Grateful Dead project of John Mayer and Bob Weir will continue for years to come. Love live the Dead!
Setlist: Dead & Company / Blossom Music Center / 6/20/18
Set One: Feel Like a Stranger, They Love Each Other, It’s All Over Now, Row Jimmy, West L.A. Fadeaway, Loose Lucy, Ship of Fools, Passenger
Set Two: Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance > He’s Gone > Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Drums/Space > I Need a Miracle > Dear Prudence > Thowing Stones
Encore: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
*Photos courtesy of myself and Daniel Ojeda