Leave it to Colorado. After not snowing practically all winter and with May right around the corner, a winter storm rolls in and shakes up everyone’s backyard barbecue plans. And those looking forward to basking in the sunshine this weekend at one of Red Rock’s first big shows of the season had to reroute their party buses to the 1st Bank Center. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead shared the following statement on their Facebook Thursday, just a few days prior to their scheduled Red Rocks show:

We have looked at this from every angle and at this point, our weather & technical advisors have let us know that we most likely will not be able to load in the audio, lights or backline necessary to ensure that a we can play a show. We are not just looking at a situation that would be unpleasant for the audience, but are in a position where we can not guarantee that we will be able to make a show happen. The weather services, our promoter AEG Live Rocky Mountains, The City of Denver Theaters and Arenas and we all agree that this is the best course of action.

The good news? We didn’t all stand out in the snow freezing our butts off, which certainly might have hindered the enjoyment factor. There were no reports of frostbite or wind-burned cheeks. More good news: JRAD has secured a new date to play Red Rocks this summer on Thursday, Aug. 31. Tickets for their rescheduled show go on sale on Friday, May 12. (note: JRAD’s bassist Dave Dreiwitz will be on tour with Ween for that date, and Oteil Burbridge will be sitting in for the rescheduled show).

And furthermore — for lovers of good news — the show was incredible regardless of any inclement weather diversions. The 1st Bank Center was transformed into a melting pot of happy Deadheads (save for the few who were vocally upset about the indoor smoking of cigarettes that inevitably took place throughout the venue), who were treated to a powerful and energetic six hour show. Medeski, Martin & Wood took the stage promptly around 6:30 p.m. and banged out a hearty set of fresh and funky psychedelic jazz fusion. It’s always a treat to see MMW, and this set was no different.

JRad came shooting out of the gate with the oh-so apropos Dylan cover, “Shelter From The Storm (note: “Cold, Rain and Snow” never happened, as we’d previously predicted), followed by a cascading set of beloved Dead covers that took the audience on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, tinkling piano solos, uber funky bass riffs and some singalongs for good measure. The first set’s highlight was easily a dark and groovy version of the politically-charged track “Throwing Stones,” which was followed by a sweet and slow “Must’ve Been The Roses.” The second set opened with some proper weirdness, with Billy Martin and John Medeski joining the gang for some banging, shaking and doodling of percussion instruments, resulting in a spacey AF intro into the rest of the show. Also, Stuart Bogie of Antibalas joined the supergroup on sax and clarinet, which infused the music with a whole new element of goodness. A dubby “Estimated Prophet” was followed by the crown jewel of the evening: a long and winding “Terrapin Station.” A righteous “The Other One” into an explosive “Eyes of the World” finished out the official set, but the show wasn’t close to being over.

The four-song, double encore went from the classic “One More Saturday Night” into “Not Fade Away” combo into a gentle “Ripple.” But no one could have predicted that at the very end, the venue would throw the lights on — which was quite jarring — and the band would cover Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” Turning the lights up while the music was still playing had an extremely sobering effect, which was counterbalanced by the fact that, only then, did you realize you were literally surrounded by all of your friends.

Sometimes I really think I could write an entire thesis on The Grateful Dead as a cultural movement and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead plays a major role in the living legacy that the “Music Never Stopped.” When Jerry died, the music went on. And now that the aging members of the Dead — who still actively play music when they can — tour less frequently, many other bands have taken the reigns. While some bands try to imitate the Dead through their specific set lists from actual shows, religiously playing the Dead as the Dead did, Russo and his compadres played it on their terms. They play back-to-back Dead tracks in an order that the Dead never has or never would, making each show innovative, unpredictable and exciting in a way that the Dead did back when they were just kids in the 1970s. It’s like seeing old music with fresh eyes, nostalgia with a twist.

And as the cherry on the top, when we exited the venue (relieved for some fresh air), there was a brass band outside playing Aaliyah “Are You That Somebody” loud and proud: the perfect dance party interlude on the way back to the car.


Full Setlist from April 29, 2017 @ 1st Bank Center:

Set 1: “Shelter From The Storm” (Bob Dylan), “Bertha,” “Let It Grow”/Led Zeppelin Jam, “Help On The Way / Slipknot!,” “Throwing Stones,” “Must’ve Been The Roses,” “Gonesville” (Bob Weir), “Shakedown Street” > “China Cat Jam” > “Shakedown Street”
Set 2: “Drums/Space,” “Dark Star,” “Mississippi Half Step,” “Estimated Prophet,” “Terrapin Station,” “The Other One,” “Eyes Of The World”
Encore: “One More Saturday Night,” “Not Fade Away,” “Ripple,” “Born To Run” (Bruce Springsteen)

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