Sunday, July 17, 2005

DC Dead - RFK, Part 2

Last month, I wrote about my experiences with The Dead at RFK Stadium. Last week, I finally bought View From the Vault II (VFV II), which is the DVD of the 6/14/91 show at RFK, plus filler from the 7/12/90 RFK show. Wow! Did that bring back some memories! Seeing RFK in it's full Grateful Dead glory once again almost brought a tear to my eye. Looking out from the stage view into the masses on the field of RFK, knowing that I was somewhere out there myself both shows, was pretty cool.

I'm not going to go into reviewing the shows themselves or the DVD in detail, but highlights for me included the Maggie's Farm & Music Never Stopped in the First Set, and the Dark Star & Drums in the Second Set of the '91 show, and the trippy Take A Step Back & Box of Rain from the '90 show. Overall, I prefer the '90 show to the '91 show and wish that the '90 show was featured with parts of the '91 show as filler, but oh well. From the '91 show though, it was cool to see the 'I can't believe that I'm playing (still) with The Dead' look in Bruce Hornsby's eyes, and watching Mickey attack The Beam full force during drums. I'm going to have to check out some of the other VFV DVDs to see how they match up. They just released a new one, Truckin Up To Buffalo, that looks pretty good.

The liner notes from this DVD are very telling about RFK too. The notes describe the acoustic challenges that The Dead sound crew faced there:

Of course, its shape - wider than it was deep, with a back wall that made a vicious echo - made it less than perfect for concerts...

The fact that Healy & crew were so successfully able to tame the horrendous acoustics there, and deliver great sound to all, was a testimonial to how good they were and how much they and the band cared about the experience for all those who bought a ticket, whether you sat up front or at the top of the stadium.

I saw several bands other than The Dead at RFK, and few did as good of a job with the sound. Pink Floyd with their quadraphonic sound had amazing sound, possibly even better than The Dead. The Stones, The Who and U2 had good, but not great sound. The sound for The Eagles was absolutely horrible, with the sound bouncing & echoing everywhere, just about ruining that show for me. Very few bands made the effort to tackle the acoustic challenges of each of the venues they played as much as The Dead did. I plan to post more on this subject later. I saw something several years ago describing how they did it, I need to find that again to provide the details.

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