Mick wrote:Suddenly, the impression of a Dead show as a bunch of hippies smoking some weed ...
Impression vs.reality, IMO.
I have known lots of people who "dropped off the touring bus" at many phases due to many reasons. But the overall feedback was that it was never this lovey-dovey scene that lots of people try to make it out to be.
The dead used the Hells Angels and lots of bikers for security and as part of the crews for many years.
The Dead themselves weren't the sweethearts many make them out to be either.
Listen to how pissy Jerry and Bobby and Phil have gotten towards people back in the small venue days when things were more intimate!
Drugged dummies just happened to become the majority somewhere in the mid-80s and that, IMO, is when it all went downhill...
Yes, when I said "impression", I meant impression. Clearly the Heroin crowd and the psychadelic crowd were always there, at least in all of the time I was seeing the band. Not everyone at any of the shows that I went to was a person I would describe as a "hippie" either. But that impression was so persistent, I still run into it today. When someone asks me what kind of music I play on the guitar, I usually say something like "classic rock". When pressed for artists and the Grateful Dead come up, I get the usual array of ignorant comments about pot-smoking hippies.
For a time, that impression worked in the favor of Dead fans; people thought of "Deadheads" as essentially harmless and concert venues for the most part left us alone from a security/police presence standpoint. Contrast that to something like a Rolling Stones show of the time , where the militant atmosphere was rampant, and there was clearly a different feel to the parking lot. Inside the venue as well. Some of the first Dead shows I saw at Brendan Byrne, you could buy a beer in the venue until the end of the intermission. Late 80s and early 90s shows, no beer at all in the venue and open container laws were being somewhat enforced in the parking lot.
I believe that not all of the change was as a result of the change to the Grateful Dead fan base. At around that time, here in NJ anyway, a lot of heavy metal bands were playing the same venues and several incidents that essentially amounted to riots occurred at their shows. I remember the pictures in the paper of overturned cars and the like. I think those incidents had to have contributed to the change in attitude toward policing parking lots before concerts.
I don't think anything I wrote indicates that I thought the atmosphere was "lovey-dovey" at any point as I clearly do not. It just seems to me now that it was more laid back at the early shows I went to than the later ones. An atmosphere that was largely "keep to ourselves" became very "in your face". I'm not an "in your face" kind of guy, and it was a major reason why I stopped going in '91.
As to "Drugged dummies just happened to become the majority somewhere in the mid-80s and that, IMO, is when it all went downhill.": I see that a little bit differently. Like I said, the heroin crowd and the psychadelic crowd were always there. Were they a minority in the early 80s and a majority in the late 80s? Maybe, but nothing from my experience stands out in support of that idea. I clearly remember some yahoos with big tanks of nitrous being carted away by the cops at one late 80s show, which did seem to be a new thing at some point. But if there was ever a time where the overwhelming majority of the crowd was completely straight and sober during the show, it must have been before I went to my first show, or after my last.
Mama Mama many worlds I've come since I first left home.