31 years ago tonight, the Grateful Dead revived the The Warlocks–their original band name prior to changing it to the ‘Grateful Dead’ in December 1965–for a pair of unannounced performances at Hampton, VA’s Hampton Coliseum on October 8th-9th, 1989.
By the time October 1989 rolled around, the world of the Dead had been turned upside down following the immensely growing levels of mainstream success and popularity following the release of In The Dark two years prior. Their quickly-growing fanbase led to problems in the parking lots and nearby areas outside of a show in 1987, resulting in no performances at the Hampton arena in 1988. When they did return in 1989, the Dead temporarily rebranded themselves as their old moniker as the unannounced shows were billed as “Formerly The Warlocks.” The band also reportedly only sold tickets to the two shows through local vendor outlets throughout Virginia in hopes that the regional-based promotion would deter some of their national fans from making the trip to Hampton and flooding the city’s infrastructure.
Over the two-night run, the Dead shared some notable bust-outs of songs which hadn’t been in the band’s live arsenal for a number of years, including the first “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” >”Franklin’s Tower” combination since 1985. The band also revisited material from their formative years with a pair of show-closing performances of “Morning Dew” and “We Big You Goodnight” to end night one on October 8th.
The recordings of both shows were eventually shared by the band as official archive releases in 2010. Listen to the Dead’s two performances at Hampton Coliseum as part of their memorable 1989 Warlocks run via the Spotify player below.
Grateful Dead – Hampton Coliseum – October 8-9, 1989