Anyone who has ever perused their way through the Grateful Dead‘s Wikipedia page can tell you that the rock band was known for their extended jams during shows. There’d be some nights when the Dead found themselves taking jam-friendly songs like “Shakedown Street”, “Playing in the Band”, or “The Other One” well into the 15 to 20-minute range.
There was one show, however, which took place on this day in 1974, which heard the Dead take attendees on a wild ride through a 46-minute “Playing In The Band”, making it the longest single-song performance of their career.
You read that correctly–46 minutes of prime Grateful Dead. The performance that night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA began with a 15-song first set–only in the Grateful Dead world is that not the headline. When the band returned to the stage to start the second set with “Playing In The Band”, fans had no idea what was about to hit them.
It’s no surprise that the band’s longest single-song performance of their career took place at this time of their long, strange trip. The Dead were really rolling through the early 1970s with excellent creative juices flowing night in and night out. The band was also just months away from putting their performance schedule on pause for a two-year hiatus following nearly a decade of consistent touring around the country. Relentless tour schedules year after year did manage to form the band’s on-stage chemistry to the point of mastery where they could dish out a 46-minute song on any given night.
Fans can listen to the audio player below to hear the entire 5/21/74 performance in full, including the 46-minute “Playing In The Band”. The official run time of the song that night clocks in at an impressive 46:43.
Grateful Dead – Hec Edmundson Pavilion – 5/21/1974
[Audio: Matthew Vernon]
45 years ago today @GratefulDead played the Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, where the Dead performed the longest single song they ever played, a version of Playing In The Band clocking in at almost 47 minutes. pic.twitter.com/S5Ws7jun7t
— David Lemieux (@lemieuxdavid) May 21, 2019