A ticket to a Dead and Company show is a lot like a time machine. You see, if you’re anything like me, you’ve dreamed once or twice about traveling back to the ’70s to live with the O.G. hippies. There’s something rather seductive about a simple lifestyle. Let’s be honest, everybody looks pretty good in a tie-dye shirt. With Dead and Company, that’s exactly what you get: a time-warp back to the ’70s, into a world full of weed and acid. Of hemp hats, burlap pants, and groovy jams full of heady rhythms that are sure to help you get your peace on. After all, what’s better than that? Dead and Company isn’t just a concert: it’s a culture.
It all starts on Shakedown Street. Located at the far end of The Gorge’s expansive campground (or any Dead and Company campground throughout the tour), the tents quickly turn into stalls and anything you might want to find can be found here: Grateful Dead merch, food, alcohol, trinkets and crystals and clothes and almost anything you could think of in the realm of hippy goodness. You’ll hear a few “POPS!” along the way (of people over-filling their nitrous balloons) and you’ll meet quite a few interesting characters the deeper you go.
It’s all a very enchanting insight into the hippy lifestyle. On one end, you see people laughing and smiling, trading goods and sharing stories and spreading positive vibes. On another end, you see people whittling themselves down to their last dollar, selling everything they have just to live another day, babies in their arms and shaggy dogs by their sides.
It’s both incredibly charming and slightly sad, but it’s realistic.
It continues down a long, winding path, which snakes through a hot and grassy plain. It goes past general stores, over bridges, and under tunnels where the show really starts: the line. It’s long (what would a great show be without a long line?) but it’s fun. Drink your beers down now (unless your bold enough to sneak them inside) and get ready for one trippy experience.
A good majority of the people around you will either be stoned or rolling and you’ll see plenty of people who have been touring with The Dead since the ’60s and ’70s. THESE are the real Dead Heads, the Heady Collective, followers of The Jerry and preachers of The Chord. Seek them out and you’ll learn a thing or two about spiritual wisdom. Don’t get too lost in the vibes and watch out for contact highs. You can practically see the energy in the air and if you aren’t ready for it, it’ll consume you.
It ends and begins on the inside. The view of the canyons that lie as the backdrop for the main stage will take your breath away. The lights that lie before that, as a part of the main stage, will have you staring in awe. The music will appease your soul. There are few things more enlightening than these kinds of moments. When you’re surrounded by so much ethereal beauty, your mind tends to wander into strange and lovely places. Let it. Breathe. It’s all as real as you make it. It’s borderline overwhelming but it’s God-damn incredible and there’s no way I’m not going back next year.
To Johh Mayer: welcome to The Dead. Jerry would be proud.
To Jerry: I wish I could have met you. Look at how your legacy lives on.