BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL

December 30, 2015

DEAD & COMPANY | LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 2015 | PRELUDE: FROM THE WATTS TOWERS TO THE FABULOUS FORUM

Of all the surprising things that happened in the world of the Grateful Dead this year, the fact that the version of the band trading as Dead & Co. would choose to ring in the new year with a pair of shows in Los Angeles might be right up there with the biggest ones. It’s been my home base now for over 13 years, and by now it’s definitely home, but for the most part it's never been a major stopping point for the Grateful Dead.

In many ways the Grateful Dead were the quintessential San Francisco band, the unintended-but-oops-it-happened-anyway musical standard-bearers for the rival Californian city from the north, and one of the only cities whose creative output over the last 50 years can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with L.A. However, nearly everything about the Grateful Dead as people and a creative entity was totally antithetical to Los Angeles. Every original member of the Dead was actually a Bay Area native as opposed to a transplant, and the band’s formation was completely organic, done without regard for careerist purposes, and with little to no knowledge of the music business or how it worked, or how one might make a living in it. Despite all that, the city of Los Angeles ended up playing a significant role in the band’s early development. At this point, I need to credit Dennis McNally’s “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History Of The Grateful Dead” as my source for the following L.A. (back) stories:

By late 1965 the band were playing the legendary “Acid Tests” in the Bay Area, which were essentially get-togethers where all attendees (including the band) took LSD and hung out all night, during a short time when it was actually legal to do this. It didn’t take long for word of this to reach Owsley Stanley, the maker of the world’s best LSD, a lover of music, and a crazed, doctrinaire pioneer in search of many of the same things as the band. Soon Owsley and the band decided their interests were mutual enough to try living together in Los Angeles, and a decision to move soon followed. Owsley bankrolled the entire project and rented a communal house in the Watts section of Los Angeles, with the band also thinking that they might be able to make some inroads into the music industry while there. 

It didn’t go nearly as well as everyone hoped. The house was a more stressful environment than expected, not least for for the female partners of band members. Owsley also insisted that all residents eat only steak and drink only milk, and the band made no real inroads with the Los Angeles music industry, primarily because they never really tried. After a couple of acid tests and only a couple of paid gigs later, the band returned to San Francisco to stay.

However, there was one pivotal moment during this time that galvanized the Grateful Dead’s future. The Watts Acid Test, staged just after their arrival, was the most significant event during their time in L.A., mostly for the wrong reasons: the acid made for the event was so strong that most attendees tripped way too hard to enjoy it. It also didn’t help that the event was staged in a dusty warehouse in Compton, and it helped even less when the police found out what was going on and ringed the event with sawhorses and officers wielding billy clubs. It became an event to survive instead of enjoy - even legendary Prankster Neal Casady was so messed up he couldn’t drive for hours, but eventually he did slowly drive Grateful Dead lead guitarist and reluctant leader Jerry Garcia back to the house in Watts sometime in the early hours. During that drive something very important happened, and at this point I’ll leave the words to Mr. McNally, because he’s already said it best:

“When they passed the Watts Towers, a peculiar local artistic monument to junk sculpture, Garcia had an epiphany. The Towers was the work of one person, Simon Rodia, and it was concrete, which is to say material. Early on February 13, Sunday morning coming down, nerves shredded by a grueling night, he gazed at the Towers and came to several conclusions. One was that material artifacts me no sense to him; whatever art he could participate in would have to be intangible, something that left behind only memories. In other words, music. And it had to be a group effort. The individual artist, as epitomized in Rodia or even more extremely in Neal Casady, wasn’t going to work for Garcia. Neal was his own brilliant, if demented, artist, and his own product as well. But he was also isolated. Something “dynamic” had a chance, Garcia thought, something cooperative but leaderless, and operating in real time, in the present moment. “This isn’t strictly recreational,” he decided. “This is really important. And that’s when I started paying attention.”

And now almost 50 years later, Dead & Company, the current incarnation of the band Garcia co-founded have returned to play shows just 9 short miles from the site of that revelation, complete with a bona fide pop star standing in for the man who transitioned to the great beyond in 1995. It’s an oddly L.A. sort of twist to the saga, and a twist one that no one could reasonably have ever predicted. But I’ll take it, and so will many others. Let’s get on with the shows.

 

ARCHIVE

DEAD & COMPANY | DECEMBER 31, 2015 | LOS ANGELES FORUM | “SCARLET > TOUCH > FIRE! OH MY…OH MY GOD!”
January 1, 2016

DEAD & COMPANY - DECEMBER 30, 2015 - LOS ANGELES FORUM - I HAD A HARD RUN
December 31, 2015

DEAD & COMPANY | LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 2015 | PRELUDE: FROM THE WATTS TOWERS TO THE FABULOUS FORUM
December 30, 2015

DEAD & COMPANY - LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 28, 2015: ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, AND PROBABLY NOT THE LAST ONE
November 28, 2015

DEAD & COMPANY - LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 27, 2015: FROM FEAR AND LOATHING TO NEARLY FLOATING
November 27, 2015

8-BITS SUMMER SEASON, GAME 6: MAYBE I SHOULD BE RUSTY MORE OFTEN
August 23, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, THE RECAP - 11 FINAL THOUGHTS
July 22, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, NIGHT FIVE: ALL THE YEARS COMBINE
July 7, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, NIGHT FOUR: THE NINETIES, AND A 239th BIRTHDAY
July 5th, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, NIGHT THREE: THE SLAMMIN’ LATE SEVENTIES
July 4, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, NIGHT TWO: THE EARLY EIGHTIES, MORE OR LESS
June 30, 2015

GD50: FARE THEE WELL, NIGHT ONE: TREY SILENCES THE HATERS, AND THE SET LIST IS A DREAM MADE REAL
June 28, 2015

THIS DARKNESS
June 27, 2015

8-BITS GAME 14: JUNE GLOOM
June 27, 2015

8-BITS GAME 13: THEN CAME THE LAST DAYS OF MAY
June 27, 2015

8-BITS GAME 12 - FEAR, PART IV: FREEZE
June 26, 2015

8-BITS GAME 11 - FEAR, PART III: WITCH HUNT
June 26, 2015

8-BITS GAME 10: FEAR, PART II: THE WEAPON
June 25, 2015

8-BITS GAME 9: FEAR, PART I: THE ENEMY WITHIN
June 24, 2015

RUSH - R40 OPENING NIGHT - BOK CENTER - TULSA, OK
May 9, 2015 • 2:34 AM

KYLE RAMBEAU DOMINATES THE ALUMINUM LEAGUE, AND UNFORTUNATELY THAT’S A PROBLEM
April 23, 2015 • 8:41 AM

SUBSTITUTION BLUES
March 23, 2015 • 9:15 AM

WHEN GOALIES ATTACK
March 11, 2015 • 6:46 PM

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
March 6, 2015 • 8:33 AM

8-BITS, GAME 4: A LONG WALK ON A SHORT PIER
February 23, 2015 • 6:38 PM

8-BITS vs. THE CANADIENS: WE BLEU IT
February 13, 2015 • 3:08 PM

DRAGON SLAYER
January 20, 2015 • 07:22 PM

TOP SHELVED
January 16, 2015 • 02:28 PM

8 MONTHS GONE, 8-BITS ARRIVAL
January 09, 2015 • 05:43 PM

THE LOS ANGELES SHARKS, GAME 3: “I SCORED?”
April 11, 2014 • 08:16 AM

KISS ALIVE IV: THE KISS ARMY DEFEATS THE ROCK HALL
April 09, 2014 • 10:01 PM

KISS ALIVE III - THE LOS ANGELES KISS
April 05, 2014 • 10:37 AM

KISS ALIVE II -- THE (VERY RARE) ACOUSTIC SHOW
April 04, 2014 • 09:10 AM

KISS ALIVE
April 01, 2014 • 07:14 AM

BACK TO SCHOOL, PART 3 OF 3: THE FIRST CLINICAL TEST
March 28, 2014 • 06:44 AM

BACK TO SCHOOL, PART 2: MEET THE SFSU CREW
March 25, 2014 • 08:36 PM

BACK TO SCHOOL, PART 1 of 3: WELCOME TO SFSU
March 23, 2014 • 08:14 PM

CONCERT REVIEW: TOOL WITH SPECIAL GUESTS YEAHMAN & THE BRAHS
March 18, 2014 • 02:23 PM

LA SHARKS GAIN A 3-3 TIE, BUT THAT’S NOT ALRIGHT
March 12, 2014 • 07:15 PM

HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL WEEKEND, PART 2 - THE LOS ANGELES SHARKS
March 06, 2014 • 06:54 PM

HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL WEEKEND, PART 1- MANOWAR: NONE MORE METAL
March 04, 2014 • 08:38 AM

WHO NEEDS DRUGS AND ALCOHOL WHEN YOU’VE GOT SPIRITUALIZED?
February 17, 2014 • 09:16 PM

THE LAST SKATE?
February 5, 2014 • 08:10 PM

“THIS IS THE LAST SEASON...IT’LL BE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW.” -Joe McGrath, GM, Charlestown Chiefs
January 14, 2014 • 07:04 AM

OUT ON A LIMB
NOVEMBER 11, 2013 • 06:47 AM

THE NEIL PEART PRACTICE PRINCIPLE
NOVEMBER 4, 2013 • 08:23 AM

RUST BUILDUP
OCTOBER 15, 2013 • 06:25 AM

PERSEVERANCE, THY NAME IS ORANGE GOBLIN
OCTOBER 10, 2013 • 08:08 PM

I HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO
SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 • 05:00 AM

THE BATTLE OF SAN BERNARDINO
SEPTEMBER 14, 2013 • 08:14 PM

PUR-PAK, MACCA...AND ME? WAIT, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
SEPTEMBER 12, 2013 • 07:48 AM

ROSALITA! SKATE A LITTLE LIGHTER!
SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 • 09:28 AM

TRUST YOUR EDGE - EVEN IF YOU CAN’T DO BACKWARDS CROSSOVERS
AUGUST 6, 2013 • 04:19 PM

THE CUTTING EDGE
JULY 23, 2013 • 05:00 AM

TAKE HOLD OF THE SKATES
JULY 17, 2013 • 09:13 AM

I WANT TO SHOW YOU ALL MY WARES
JULY 1, 2013 • 08:30 AM

IN THE HI-FIDELITY FIRST CLASS TRAVELING SET
JUNE 28, 2013 • 08:04 PM

A SUDDEN GUST OF GRAVITY
JUNE 25, 2013 • 02:25 PM

FIRST STEPS
JUNE 18, 2013 • 03:30 PM

HOCKEY REDUX
JUNE 14, 2013 • 08:00 PM

GOLDEN GODS AND HEAVY METAL
MAY 09, 2013 • 09:49 AM

SURFERS ON A TIDAL WAVE
April 29, 2013 • 10:57 AM

SEALFIT CHALLENGE: MISSION SECURED
April 22, 2013 • 08:39 AM

MODERN DAY WARRIORS
APRIL 18, 2013 • 10:15 AM