Welcome to the Dead and Company Summer tour 2017 kickoff in Las Vegas, NV. The Dead Cat Society raises its glass to celebrate Lazlito’s birthday show and the 40th anniversary of his first Grateful Dead tour. It’s Vegas baby, and there’s no better way to celebrate another trip around the sun than with a evening in sin city with the Dead and Company. Everybody wins at the Belagio.
After months of grinding and planning, chiggers, poison ivy, and rotten pig bones, the Dead & Company‘s 2017 tour has finally landed on our face. Two nights ago, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti pulled into Las Vegas to kick off their 20-date summer run. The band came in hot in their first performance since 7/30/16 at Shoreline Amphitheatre, opening with “The Music Never Stopped,” “Dire Wolf,” and “Jack Straw,” each highlighted by drippingly cool guitar weaving by John and Bobby.
Dead and Company
Saturday May 27, 2017
MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas , NV
The Music Never Stopped
Friend of the Devil
Brown Eyed Women
Playing In The Band
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
The Other One
One More Saturday Night
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Playing In the Band (reprise)
*Midnight Rider tease
Set one continued the string of jukebox Dead sing-alongs, including “Loser,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Brown Eyed Women,” and “Bird Song.” Set two kicked off with a joyous “Playin’ In The Band,” which eventually bled into “Deal,” sung with silky smoothness by Mayer. A classic “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” pairing came next, and eventually dissipated into “Drums/Space,” giving Mickey and Billy a crack at one of their patented percussion adventures. Out of the “Space” arose “The Other One,” as Bobby led the band on vocals through the remainder of the set, including “Black Peter” and “One More Saturday Night.”
Of course, it was not just another Saturday night. Earlier that evening, the music world received the devastating news that Gregg Allman, the leader of the Allman Brothers Band, had passed away. In a moving tribute to the fallen legend (and Burbridge’s former Allman Brothers bassist), Dead & Company delivered a delicate rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” As the band played, images of Gregg were projected behind the stage, as the band slipped back into a “Playin’ in the Band” reprise to finish a fantastic tour opener.
Ed. note: We keep things pretty fancy around here. You know that. Although sleeping in the front seat of the adventure wagon is a special treat, there’s always a place for balconies and room service. With the Dead and Company playing in the MGM Grand, we staked our tents at the Beliagio. Because we’re worth it! I had already been here with Fifer during Feldman’s bachelor party. We told the housekeeper that Mozer had alcohol poisoning and we needed to check on him, only to gain entrance and use his shower. This elegant hotel/casino sits right smack in the middle of the Las Vegas strip and is conveniently close to the venue. Preparing for a grand entrance, I strung a short rope into a makeshift leash for Lucy and prepared to strut through the lobby and casino like we owned the house. Thatcher and the bug walked ahead with Luke Skywalker (the pit bull) and we checked in and steered for the room. As usual, Lucy and I were moving lackadaisically and hung back from everyone else as we strutted onto the casino floor.
I noticed the first piece of dog poop around the Walking Dead slot machines. It was only one piece, but it was not a small piece. Luke is a pit bull.
Obviously horrified, Lucy and I negotiated the unspoken and turned the corner, hoping to escape any more carnage. What we saw next, is burned, forever, into the mind’s eye. Thatcher Owen was struggling to drag the immense animal across the tile and carpet while Luke fought to squat and maintain some dignity as he finished his business. Which he did.
It was a trail of whatever Luke Skywalker had been holding in since Arizona. Everywhere. Typically with new guests at this large hotel, it’s tough to find your way around the casino to your hotel room. It takes forever to find the parking garage or anything else and one finds oneself walking in circles. This was exactly the case and by the time he was done, Luke had spread his trail of love around the entire casino floor. Unusually aware of the ongoing unholiness, Lucy and I were able to avoid the problems, but many hotel guests were not so lucky. Around the blackjack tables, a lady kicked a large pile across the carpet. Another man turned a corner and slid through a large lump, almost going down by the ATM machine. People were just realizing what was happening as we walked by. The real carnage was happening directly behind me. All we had to do was keep moving. And hide.
With the odoriferous Belagio casino behind us, onward we march eastward, deeper into the desert, past the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, AZ and another taste of the Dead and Company summer tour. The Kaibab National Forest allows free camping on it’s land and it’s right next to the entrance to the Grand Canyon Village. Follow 17 up from Phoenix. When you get to the big hole, back up a little.