During this year’s SweetWater 420 Festival, while the festival offered up a truly staggering lineup of heavy-hitters, one of the highlights of the weekend was the two incredible sets laid out by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Their Saturday performance on April 21st at Atlanta, Georgia’s Centennial Olympic Park was fiery, to say the least, offering up their innovative takes on Grateful Dead tunes.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead threw down two incredible sets (perhaps the toughest, though thankfully one of the only truly vexing scheduling conflicts of the weekend). JRAD’s second set, in particular, was fantastic, featuring a setlist stocked with verifiable Grateful Dead classics and a heavy dose of extra-strength improv on each and every tune. If nothing else, it was certainly one of the larger sets the band has played, and they smiled and laughed throughout the performance, clearly enjoying their view of the tens of thousands of people packed into the Atlanta park and the cityscape behind it.
Increasingly, the band has jammed at the beginning of the set, eventually landing in a song, and for the first set of their SweetWater 420 performance, the group’s opening amorphous jam eventually landed in Jerry Garcia’s “Cats Under The Stars”. The first set was particularly focused on improvisation and extending each tune, with each of its five songs clocking in at just about 10 minutes or longer. During the second set, the band performed the “73 Changes” jam from “Eyes of the World” for the first as a standalone and brought back the “Shakedown Street” reprise (last played in Denver on 2/15/2015, marking a gap of 129 shows) and their “Turn On Your Lovelight” jam (last played at the Capitol Theatre on 12/30/2016, marking a gap of 55 shows).
Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | SweetWater 420 | Centennial Olympic Park | Atlanta, GA | 4/21/2018
Set One (5:12PM – 6:13PM): Jam -> Cats Under The Stars -> Feel Like A Stranger @, The Wheel # -> Estimated Prophet $ -> He’s Gone %
Set Two (6:42PM – 7:58PM): Shakedown Street ^ -> ’73 Changes (Eyes) Jam & -> Shakedown Street Reprise * -> I Need A Miracle -> Jam + -> Ramble On Rose, China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider @@ -> Drums -> Not Fade Away ## -> (Turn On Your) Lovelight Jam $$ -> Not Fade Away Reprise, One More Saturday Night
@ – With a “Standing on the Verge of Getting It On” (George Clinton, Eddie Hazel) Tease (MB) & an Unknown Tease (MB)
# – With a a Playin Jam (Band) and a Dark Star Tease (DD)
$ – With a “Soulful Strut” (Young Holt Limited) Jam (SM then Band)
% – With a The Wheel Tease (TH)
^ – With a Feel Like a Stranger Tease (TH) and then a Feel Like a Stranger Jam (Band)
& – First Time Played by Almost Dead as a stand alone segment (AKA NOT as the ending to Eyes of the World)
* – Not Played by Almost Dead since 2015-02-15 Ogden Theater, Denver, CO a gap of 129 shows, with an I Need A Miracle Tease (TH)
+ – With a Tennessee Jed Tease (SM)
@@ – With a Playin Tease (SM) & Morning Dew Teases (TH)
## – With a “Revelry” (Traditional) Tease (SM)
$$ – Not Played by Almost Dead since 2016-12-30 Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY, a gap of 55 shows