Billy Strings continued his West Coast tour on Thursday with a show at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, CA. The show saw numerous highlights, including some nods to Bay City heroes the Grateful Dead and the debut of a cover by the Delmore Brothers.
Billy Failing kicked the show into gear by firing off the banjo intro to “Red Daisy”. Following a quick run through the Jarrod Walker original, Strings and company got right to business with the instrumental “Ernest T. Grass”, which opened up into a lengthy improvisation that saw Billy dive headfirst into his array of effects and tease Jimi Hendrix‘s “Third Stone From The Sun”. The mood then shifted from shredding to sentimental as the band transitioned into “Must Be Seven”.
Up next on the docket was Strings’ recently released contemplation on our ecological impact “Fire Line“, which ultimately segued into the 2021 Halloween-friendly “End Of The Rainbow”. Following “A Good Woman’s Love”, the first set closed out with the Robert Hunter-penned setlist staple “Thunder”, which featured more teases of “Third Stone From The Sun” by Strings.
Returning for the second frame, Strings fired off some quick hitters starting with “West Dakota Rose” followed by the first “Blue Mule” since night three of the Deja Vu Experiment on 2/20/21. Following a somber “Enough To Leave”, the party kicked back into gear with “Everything’s The Same”. The Fox Theatre then erupted as Strings plucked out the opening notes of “Dark Star”, taking his ensemble through a deeply exploratory, 13-minute rendition of the holy grail of improvisational vehicles.
Strings wasn’t finished paying homage to San Francisco jam giants, however, as he segued into one of his most reliable Dead covers, “Wharf Rat”. Though the group kept the tempo down for these two lengthy selections, listeners were able to take in every note as opposed to the bluegrass outfit’s typical rapid-fire pace. Coming out of “Wharf Rat”, the ensemble slowly but surely kept their feet on the gas until they arrived at John Hartford‘s “All Fall Down” for the last sizable jam of the evening. To close out the second set, Strings offered his debut rendition of “Blues Stay Away From Me” by the Delmore Brothers before returning to encore with “Freeborn Man”.
Watch Billy Strings cover “Dark Star” and “Wharf Rat” individually, as well as a video that captures the full “Dark Star” > “Wharf Rat” > “All Fall Down” movement.
Billy Strings – “Dark Star” (Grateful Dead) – Oakland, CA – 9/9/21
Billy Strings – “Wharf Rat” (Grateful Dead) – Oakland, CA – 9/9/21
Billy Strings – “Dark Star” > “Wharf Rat” > “All Fall Down” – Oakland, CA – 9/9/21
Setlist: Billy Strings | Fox Theatre | Oakland, CA | 9/9/21
Set One: Red Daisy, Ernest T. Grass  > Must Be Seven, Fire Line > End Of The Rainbow , A Good Woman’s Love, Thunder 
Set 2: West Dakota Rose, Blue Mule, Enough To Leave, Everything’s The Same, Dark Star > Wharf Rat > All Fall Down, Blues Stay Away From Me 
Encore: Freeborn Man
 3rd Stone From The Sun tease
 Ice Bridges tease