On Saturday night, Dead & Company concluded their two-night run at the legendary Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. As per tradition in a multi-night run, the Grateful Dead-inspired band flexed their creativity by expanding upon a wicked first night and adding new flavors for round two. Fifteen shows into the summer tour and Dead & Company welcomed their first guest to the stage on Saturday night, vocalist/guitarist Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, to close the first set.
The first set opened with an appropriate “The Music Never Stopped”, led by Grateful Dead original Bob Weir and newfound Dead Head John Mayer, kicking off night two in total celebration mode. A cover of Rob Wasserman‘s “Easy Answers” came next, marking the third performance of this tour and the fourth ever.
The Music Never Stopped
John Mayer and Bob Weir continued to swap vocals between “Alabama Getaway”, “Big River”, and “Jack Straw” before welcoming their guest, Justin Vernon, marking the first of the tour. The Eau Claire native contributed his sultry vocals and silky guitar pickings to “Black Muddy River”, “Friend of the Devil”, and “Bird Song” to close the first set. Vernon is most well known for his signature style of singing in his own indie folk band Bon Iver. Most recently, Vernon announced a new band with Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, who released a Grateful Dead tribute album in 2016, Day of the Dead, and even recorded and toured with Bob Weir as part of his Campfire Band in 2017. On Day of the Dead, Vernon’s first band DeYarmond Edison backed Bruce Hornsby on a studio version of “Black Muddy River”, and the version was revived at Vernon’s own Eaux Claires Music Festival in 2016. While the sit-in might have felt random to longtime Grateful Dead fans, it’s an interesting step forward in the evolution of the band’s live repertoire.
“Bird Song” with Justin Vernon
[Video: Milwaukee Live]
After the scheduled break, Dead & Company returned to the moonlit stage for a rocking second set. Bob Weir, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti harmoniously sung The Band‘s “The Weight” to open the second set, marking the song’s third performance of the tour and the sixth ever. The high notes continued with “Shakedown Street”, “Althea”, and a “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” of the ages, turning heads of fans everywhere calling it the “set of the tour”. The percussionists kept the momentum for a far-out “Drums / Space” portion of the evening before the rest of the band returned to the stage.
China Cat > I Know You Rider
[Video: Still Dead]
The tour’s second and sixth ever “All Along The Watchtower” came next, as Bob Weir took lead on the Bob Dylan classic. Weir continued with the lead vocal duty to close the show with “Standing on the Moon” and “Sugar Magnolia”. During the latter, Weir’s microphone stopped working and he gave the stand a powerful smack to the ground. After his technician came to revive the microphone stand, Weir jokingly gave it a “test” before taking the first verse of the song. Dead & Company encored with “One More Saturday Night” to close their show.
Dead & Company have a bit of a break before they head to George, Washington for a night at the Gorge Amphitheatre on June 29th, before they continue their way throughout the Midwest. Check out their full tour schedule on the band’s official website here.
Setlist: Dead & Company | Alpine Valley Music Theatre | East Troy, WI | 6/23/2018
I: Music Never Stopped, Easy Answers, Alabama Getaway, Big River, Jackstraw, Black Muddy River*, Friend Of The Devil*
II: The Weight, Shakedown Street, Althea, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Drums/Space > Watchtower > Standing on the Moon, Sugar Magnolia
E: One More Saturday Night