Thursday, July 28, 2005

DC Dead: The Capital Centre

Earlier this week, I downloaded my first Cap Centre show (3/14/90), and what a show that was! Check out the first set in particular, one of the best of the 90s. From 1974-1994, The Grateful Dead played 29 shows there, 12 of which I had the pleasure of seeing myself. Add 2 more Jerry Garcia Band shows, at least 13 concerts from other bands, and a multitude of NBA (Bullets), NHL (Capitals), Box Lacrosse (Wave) and College Basketball (Maryland Terps) games, and needless to say, I spent many, many evenings there over the years.

When The Capital Center was built in 1973, it was at the time considered state-of-the-art, complete with a large screens in the center of the arena, skyboxes (that were truly SKY-boxes), wide concourses, a restaurant, etc. By the time I started going to athletic events and concerts there in the 80's it was already obsolete. The acoustics sucked, traffic was hell getting in and out of there, and it had a very dark and cold feel to it. That said, I still had a great time most every time I went out there.

By the time I 'got on the bus' in '89, camping had pretty much ended, but the Cap Centre 'Scene' was still always lively and fun. Yeah, the Fuzz would stroll through on horseback and crack a few heads from time-to-time, but it was never as bad as some people made it out to be. Inside, The Dead transformed this cold, dank, potato chip roof-shaped arena into a hot, wild psychedelic circus. They played some great shows over the years there, including 11/8/79 (memorable Morning Dew), the 3/14/90 show mentioned earlier (highlighted by the return of Loose Lucy), 3/16/90 (return of Black Throated Wind), 3/21/91 (Stir It Up Jam!), and many more.

Bottom line was that The Capital Centre wasn't the greatest arena in the world, but regardless, I saw some great shows there in the early 90s. And yes, I'll admit that I got a little teary-eyed when they demolished it 3 years ago. Once they built the MCI Center in downtown DC, the old arena in Landover, MD was made irrelevant. It's a shopping center now, The Boulevard at The Capital Centre. I find that to be a little depressing, but all in the name of progress, I guess.

BTW, it will always until the end of time be The Capital Centre. Never, EVER The USAir Arena (blech!)


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Ben - The 11/8/79 show yopu reference has China Cat/Rider.
I'm just sayin'.....

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Mark said...

And I'm just now finding that it has a very cool "Not Fade Away"!


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