Jealous of you guys with your 70's shows, esp. anything pre-hiatus! I started in 85. Can only narrow my "best"* down to a top 7 in NO order: 4/15/89 Milwaukee, 12/28/88 Oakland, 4/2/90 Atlanta, 7/15/88 Berkeley, 7/2/87 Rochester, 9/12/88 Philly, 8/4/89 Cal Expo.
* = meaning musically/spiritually combined impression. There is no way to fully disassociate musicality with the overall experience one has while in attendance... even listening to a recording: if you were there, then you have memories of being there. So even a sloppy performance, to an attendee might recall fond memories of a "fun" day, etc. etc. which after all isn't that what the Dead experience was all about?
I hear ya. I caught some early '80's shows, but didn't set out to tour until '84. Best show is tough to define. Like you said, when you were THERE it made such a difference. My fave for being there was that Richmond show that they put out on Dick's Pick's from '85. Loved the set list, the Gloria, the split of Lost Sailor/Saint, just a magical night after staying at the hotel across the street and spending the rainy day in the hot tub and sauna. That was one crazy-ass night, too, complete with many friends ending up in jail for smoking during the show! I would have been in as well, but was sick and didn't partake! I spent the rest of the night (between hits off the tank) on the phone trying to get up bail to get my friends out. Went to bed around 3 and got a phone call at 7 that court was in session across the street and so off I went. I lost my shoes at the Fox (another couple of great shows and great stories), so I was almost thrown out of court for not wearing shoes! Ah, the memories that come flooding back...Maybe we should define best show I saw in different categories: Best performance by Garcia, best Phil Bomb, best Bobby spit, best setlist, best breakout, best pre-show activities, best post show activities, best ingestion of supplements, etc?
"The only funeral you should ever try to interrupt is your own, and that should be a full-time job." -Kinky Friedman