Dead and Company brought their summer tour to the site of the original Woodstock in Bethel Woods, New York, on Monday night. It was the first time the Grateful Dead spinoff site visited the amphitheater, and they celebrated by playing the Grateful Dead’s five-song setlist from the original Woodstock in sequence.
“Fifty years ago, right here, we tried this little sequence,” Bob Weir told the crowd. “And it didn’t work so well for us, so we’re going to try again.”
Back in 1969, the Grateful Dead played Woodstock on the evening of Saturday, August 16th, following sets by the Incredible String Band, Canned Heat, and Mountain. “It was raining toads when we played,” Weir told Rolling Stone in 1989. “The rain was part of our nightmare. The other part was our sound man, who decided that the ground situation on stage was all wrong. It took him about two hours to change it, which held up the show.”
“He finally got it the way he wanted it,” he continued, “but every time I touched my instrument, I got a shock. The stage was wet, and the electricity was coming through me. I was conducting! Touching my guitar and the microphone was nearly fatal. There was a big blue spark about the size of a baseball, and I got lifted off my feet and sent back eight to 10 feet to my amplifier.”
Despite the chaos, the band still managed to play “St. Stephen,” “Mama Tried,” “Dark Star,” “High Time,” and an epic “Turn on Your Love Light.” “Some people made their careers at Woodstock,” Weir said in 1989. “But we’ve spent about 20 years making up for it. It was probably the worst set we’ve ever performed.”
Film of the Dead’s original set proves it wasn’t quite as bad as legend suggests, but they had a chance to do it all again on Monday by once again playing “St. Stephen,” “Mama Tried,” “Dark Star,” “High Time,” and and “Turn on Your Love Light” in the same sequence. It took place during the second set of the night, and they executed it flawlessly. They also managed to avoid electrocuting themselves this time.
Dead and Company resume their tour on Wednesday night with a show at Darien Lake Amphitheater in Darien Lake, New York. They wrap up on Halloween with a gig at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. They get back together in January 2022 for a pair of weekend Playing in the Sand events in Riviera Cancun, Mexico.