Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #74863  by playingdead
 Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:40 pm
Caught Furthur at Radio City on Tuesday night ... during the encore, they put up a life-size photo of the Dead in front of the Wall of Sound. It's kind of hard to tell from my photo (about 12 rows back), because of the angle and perspective, but it was actual size, i.e., a stagehand walked next to the photo where Garcia was, and he was that height. If you look at the relative size of Weir, who was standing maybe 30 feet in front of the screen, you can see. Or compare the lights in the photo to the real lights on stage. Or Phil's 10" bass speakers to the 10" speakers in the vocal cluster.

I always thought the Wall of Sound was HUGE ... but, as it turns out, it would've fit pretty neatly on the stage at Radio City. It was still impressive as hell, and of course it sounded terrific, but gives you a little realistic sense of the dimensions.

 #74864  by Staemius
 Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:46 pm
Someday..if some band will recreate that wall...I will go. That would be nice.
 #74865  by FretWilkes
 Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:53 pm
I saw that conmfiguration in 74 and the same system but setup more traditionally in 73. I've never heard bass more clearly defined than through The Wall. When the Dead came back in 76 I saw them for 2 show at The Boston Music Hall. My thoughts at both shows and many thereafter was "what happened to Phil?" Compared to the Wall his sound was always harder for me to hear in later years. A tough act to follow!
 #74866  by playingdead
 Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:01 pm
I missed seeing the wall by four years ... :?

If you saw the 73 show in Boston, that was the genesis of the whole wall of sound concept, because their setup at the time was too wide to fit on that stage, so they stacked a lot of the PA right behind the band.

Phil's bass was loud as hell last night, but I was on his side.
 #74873  by waldo041
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:03 am
i want one for my wall!!!

on another note, NICE ORBS in that shot! obviously quite a few "ghosts" who were at that show! very cool! the one over jerry is the brightest, but the 3 by chimenti on keys is chilling to think about! i know this talk isn't for everyone, but i am thinking pig, keith AND sandwich man(s.larned)!

oh, and the rafters are loaded with them! :D

 #74877  by Rusty the Scoob
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:22 am
Very interesting! Being the giant nerd that I am I couldn't just believe my eyes and had to do my own math.

I think I count 18 of Phil's 15" D140 cabs in the two tallest stacks, correct me if I'm wrong. According to my research those cabs were: 18 1/4" (high) by, 28 1/2" (wide) by, 24 1/2" (deep), so the stacks were just over 27' high. A quick unscientific eyeball test shows that the entire thing is about 6 times the height of projected-Bobby, lending weight to the theory that the WOS was about 30' high or so... assuming Bobby is normalish musician height of 5'8" to 6'0" or so, which I have not yet been able to verify.

RCMH's proscenium arch is 60' high according to the official website so it should easily have fit even with the extra few feet of scaffolding above.
 #74878  by waldo041
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:24 am
playingdead wrote:You forget Brent!

 #74881  by waldo041
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:56 am
yeah, he was using it before Furthur.

 #74884  by NashvilleMike
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:20 am
But how was the show Vic? You have such a good ear I am interested in your opinion of this incarnation.
 #74886  by FretWilkes
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:36 am
playingdead wrote:I missed seeing the wall by four years ... :?

If you saw the 73 show in Boston, that was the genesis of the whole wall of sound concept, because their setup at the time was too wide to fit on that stage, so they stacked a lot of the PA right behind the band.

Phil's bass was loud as hell last night, but I was on his side.
Yes Vic, 1973 was a cool setup. There was a 6 to 8ft wall of gear directly behind them and then a somewhat conventional pile of speakers on either side of the stage. By 74 of course it was completely behind them.

A walk around the back of the stage revealed a long series of MC2300s with meters all a looked like a space ship back there.

Also, while staring at this site with mouth agape, I noticed that right in front of me was Jerry's new guitar...Wolf. At first I was a little disaponted that it wasn't the E72 Strat, but soon got over that. It kind of glowed laying there on a road case with the quilted maple looking DEEP! What a jewel. I think this may have been the 1st show with Wolf...Providence 73.
 #74888  by playingdead
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:42 am
The show I saw had its moments, but it was not on fire, not as "good" as some of the earlier shows on the tour that I had heard the soundboards of.

My take on JK's tone, hearing it live, was it was actually difficult for me to tell when he was using the overdrive. His base tone was semi-overdriven and his overdrive tone wasn't a whole lot different. Jerry's clean tone and his overdrive tone were miles apart, you really knew when he kicked it on. When Jerry went from TLEO to Samson, boy, you could hear the difference. That night (same two tunes), not so much. JK's base tone is a lot squishier.

There is no question he is the closest so far to playing like Jerry -- unabashedly parroting some very signature licks during some of the jams -- but there was still a curious flatness to the jams. My biggest complaint about Warren was that the jams seemed more like Allman Bros. jams -- lots of licks, but no direction. Warren never really got out and drove the bus somewhere new. In this band, Phil is driving the bus and playing very aggressively, but when JK takes it, it's still a mix of licks and ideas, if that makes any sense, instead of "There goes Jerry off on some tangent." It happened a couple of times, but not consistently.

I've always judged these post-Garcia projects by the reaction of the crowd. When I'm up front, I like to look back and see what the house is doing. I looked back in Orlando in 1994, and saw the entire Orlando Arena bopping up and down during Franklin's Tower. An awesome sight. At Radio City, I'd look back and the house was standing, people were sort of swaying gently, but no one was going nuts the way they did at a Dead show. This was during uptempo songs were people should have been going crazy -- especially a NYC crowd -- Shakedown, Samson and Franklins, for example.

I've noticed the same thing at Ratdog and Phil shows, as well. The only time I can recall sheer bedlam was seeing Phil with the quintet at the Orpheum in Boston in October of 2001, during St. Stephen, total bedlam, the place was shaking, balcony was pogoing up 3-4 feet with the people stomping up there. That was like a real Dead show energy wise.

Maybe this was just an off night and the crowd felt it. And, the Days Between was a bit of a buzzkill, it was nicely played, and sung well by Bobby, but a lot of people in the crowd were sitting down and talking, no one was engrossed the way they would be when Garcia did Stella Blue and you could just hear a pin drop in the crowd.

Another thing I definitely noticed was the drums, or lack thereof. One of the things that made certain tunes really engrossing was how Billy and Mickey would just propel the band. At Radio City, they did Let it Grow toward the end of the second set, and you could barely hear the drums, Russo was playing his set, but Jay Lane was just scraping on a guiro and patting a conga or something with his other hand. I wanted those triplet patterns on the cowbell and explosive toms from Mickey, you know? (Yes, it needed More Cowbell.)

At that point, I realized that mostly what you could hear over the PA was guitars and bass, the drums were mixed low and that definitely did not help get the crowd up and going. I was up front but not that far upfront, the mains were in front of us and sharply curved so the lower speakers were pretty much pointed at us. I don't think it was house sound vs. stage sound.

Just random thoughts ...
 #74889  by playingdead
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:58 am
And, just to add one more thought ... this is where, in my opinion, having these ironclad setlists works against you. I think it removes spontaneity, doesn't allow the band to judge the crowd reaction, or follow an idea to some new destination. There were some awkward transitions.

Weir revealed in any interview that it's mostly Jill Lesh and his manager, Matt, who are coming up with the setlists. But I think when you sit down and map out the evening, even if you are carefully changing the material so nothing repeated and you're getting interesting tune segues, you're removing that crucial element where "the music is playing the band," instead of "the band is playing the setlist."

If it's a high-energy NYC crowd, you might choose to play some hot, uptempo numbers. If it's an trippy, introspective SF crowd, you might do some spacier material. The element of the unknown was always one of the magical things about a Grateful Dead show. You didn't know where you were going, and they didn't really know either.

I was in the house for soundcheck, and I could hear them working on Samson, TLEO, Two Djinn and Hard to Handle, all of which got played that night. But there's something to be said for a totally unexpected, unplanned romp through a tune ... like when the Dead busted out Dancing in the Streets without any rehearsal (KC -- 1981), fumbled their way through the extended jam, ended it, and Bobby stepped to the mike and said, "We thought we'd take the opportunity to prove once again that our memories are better than we have any right to expect them to be ... but still not that good." That was fun.
 #74890  by FretWilkes
 Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:13 am
playingdead wrote:The show I saw had its moments, but it was not on fire, not as "good" as some of the earlier shows on the tour that I had heard the soundboards of.
Great review.

Furthur sounded the closest to a real Dead like experience to me since Jerry. I've only heard recordings, but I can see where it might sound lackluster as well. I guess it's like growing up on Mt Everest and then being flown to Rhode Island. You'd see Jerimoth Hill at 812 feet and you might say "Wow, that's the best hill I've seen since Everest!" It falls a little short of the real thing though.

I guess all of these incarnations: Further, The Dead, Ratdog, Phil & Friends all point out pretty strongly what a hugely unique and powerful presence Garcia was. There are many excellent guitar players out there, but there are no Garcias!

Thank goodness I got to see Jerry many, many times and we've got the DVD, CDs etc.

Bring on 7/7/89!