I saw the Grateful Dead twice in the 1980s at the Omni in Atlanta. We made a day of it, wandering the sweaty parking lot, buying homemade tie-dye shirts, wondering why everyone was looking for a miracle, and wondering just how hard it was to find a bottle of water instead of beer sold from a cooler in someone’s van. My friends were experienced show-goers. One of the guys grew up going “on tour” with his parents in the 1970s.
The biggest surprises for me were once the Dead show started. I had only heard their studio albums before the show. While my friends waxed poetic about Dick’s Picks and cassette swapping of shows, I had no idea what I was about to experience. As beach balls bounced around the entire Omni, a bluegrass band started playing and everybody went crazy. I didn’t realize that bands opened for the Grateful Dead!
About 20 minutes later, I finally yelled to my buddy, “When do the Dead start?” He laughed at me with a mix of disdain and pity, and yelled, “That’s Jerry! This is the Dead!”
Thus started my education about the Grateful Dead.