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Every Dark Star (Grateful Dead)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bzfgt, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. pbuzby

    pbuzby Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, US
    I try to be positive about all of them, but listening to this version today does make me wish it was on a multitrack where someone could remix it centering on Jerry and Phil with less of Brent and the drums.
    bzfgt likes this.
  2. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    Quirk's audience tape in particular has Bob & Phil higher in the mix and Brent somewhat reduced, so that's the source to hear a more guitar-centered mix (though Wagner's tape has a bit more punch).
    The band is kind of pulling in two different directions -- Brent & the drummers are playing it like an upbeat pop song, while Jerry Bob & Phil are playing a dark & gnarly jam.
    It's still quite enjoyable though; I listened to it a few times and didn't get tired of it. In that way it's another throwback to old-style Dark Stars which improve on each listen.
    pbuzby and bzfgt like this.
  3. JSegel

    JSegel Forum Resident

    Stockholm, Sweden
    #184 7/13/84 Berkeley: 15:54 (standalone encore)

    My best friend in high school played bass in our band, I used to borrow his bass to play in a cover band with older guys who played a lot of Dead. I showed my band’s bassist the songs, he subsequently became a full-on, often-traveling Deadhead for years. He moved to Humboldt, I moved to Santa Cruz. We’d meet sometimes, usually in Berkeley (his sister was managing the UC Theater), unsurprisingly on dates such as July 13, 1984, his 21st birthday.

    That said, I have nearly no memory of this concert except the environment of the Greek Theater and the sky.

    So it’s the encore here, with a shooting star going overhead at the time. They start with the intro lick, fumbling into it a bit, into a relatively quick-paced groove. Phil is actually playing lead bass again instead of just holding down the roots, the jam has a lot of off-beat interplay but lands on the one often.

    Verse almost immediately, at 1:20. Sort of haggard vocals, drums chugging the four-square beat right through it all. Nice descending piano lick on line three. A slight pause punctuated by tom toms for the refrain, and the outro moving directly back into more groove jamming as if it never stopped. Jerry hits the fuzz for a bit, though the lines are making arches over the continuous accompaniment. Good playing in general, Jerry ends up finding some feedback tones for a minute, the band keeps going, he goes back to lead playing, heading toward very plaintive stretches at 4:30, when they come down from this area, it starts to move toward a lower intensity, lots of electric piano runs, they band takes it down a bit.

    It’s sort of a new area, Phil is more on syncopated lower tones, the band in general gets a bit sparser before beginning a new climb over a small hill and back to the theme at 7:30, they stretch it apart and play with the song, Phil maneuvers some heavy downbeats for a couple lines as if it were a song-form section, but it wanders away.

    They bring it to a plateau at the end of minute 8 and up into a higher intensity jam area for a while, Jerry playing high Bright Star-like licks. Coming down the other side, back to the theme proper, they might have headed to the verse there at 10 minutes but Jerry steps into a low Sputnik and they continue forward.

    They continue in the jam chugging away endlessly. Jerry heads back to a higher octave version of the theme at 12’, then they hold it there for a bit, Brent playing some planing chords against it, like a new chord progression. The theme holds but the band comes down a bit and the second verse happens at 13:20.

    Phil is on a riff throughout the lines, Brent is mirroring the melody. Drums pound through the refrain, endlessly. The outro riff is started by Phil, the others join in and it ends with a coda of holding little licks and notes warbling around. Jerry turns his fuzz back on to stretch it out at the end with some fast little runs and tremolos, the drums finally turn to cymbals and the guitars extend a feedback note.

    To me, it's still an odd version, very straight in a lot of ways, endless (but quite good!) jamming on the groove and that’s about it. Ah, for my complaining about the spaciness of the early 1974 versions, this is what I get I guess. It was a great way to end the concert, of course, and nice to hear the song for the only time in the mid-1980s. I guess they weren’t really gonna take it out into space for the encore despite the space background projections.
  4. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Southeastern PA
    #184 1984-07-13 Jerry and then Phil get the intro going and then they're off, gliding along with some pace. Brent's electric piano stands out as being of that time period. Jerry works a nice high line and Phil seems more active which is good. The drummers thump away and Bob seems less present in the mix. The collective sound is pretty nice though.

    By 1:28 they're already into the first verse. Jerry's voice sounds weary and worn and I agree that there's not much emotiveness in his delivery.

    After the verse they restate the intro and then keep rolling along fairly energetically. Jerry switches on some fuzzy distortion and heads out. Phil and Brent are both active and the drummers keep banging away. There's some ebb and flow and Jerry gets more stretchy. They rise up and ease back, cruising along. The feel gets a little more contemplative around 5:30 or so and they seem both slow and quick at the same time.

    The momentum starts building again with Jerry working upwards but then they ease up again and kind of float along. Pretty nice interweaving with Jerry, Phil and Brent. Bob pops up from time to time but his textures seem to be distant in the mix. They roll along with Jerry getting into a low, repeating thing. By 9:00 the intensity starts increasing and they rise up to a nice peak that gets Bright Star-ish and adds a touch of triumphant feel to the proceedings.

    Around 9:45 they ease up and revisit the theme. At 10:05 Jerry introduces a Sputnik-like sound. He doesn't stay with it for long but it resets the scene and they work in this dreamier zone for a spell. Jerry rolls along in lower territory with Brent adding a lot of color. The momentum starts to build again and they rise up a bit, winding and weaving before touching on the theme again at 12:05. Things get gentler with a pretty feel and Jerry keeps weaving on.

    They delicately move into the second verse at 13:20. Jerry is a little more emotive this time although the delivery is still a bit rough. After the verse they reset again and then swirl around with Jerry back to a fuzzy tone. They rise up a little and create a brief soundscape with Jerry getting into some mellow tremolo. And then slowly they let it go, giving way to crowd applause.

    It's a pretty good performance overall. Phil is much more active and they seem engaged. There's still a lot of working the main groove but they venture out a little and the Bright Star-ish peak sprinkles in some of the old triumphant feel. I like the back half too and they're at least trying to make it interesting.
    johnnypaddock, bzfgt and JSegel like this.
  5. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler Thread Starter

    185. 1989-10-09 147611 Hampton 19:19

    Main theme at :57.
    First verse at 1:05.
    Main theme at 9:54.
    Second verse at 10:41.
    Goes into Drums.

    If the 1984 Dark Star encore at the Greek was a wonderful surprise, this one was greeted with shock and almost disbelief. At this point, few expected Dark Star to appear on a set list again, much less (as it would turn out) see a revival as a semi-regular feature of Grateful Dead shows. The previous night the band, booked as “Formerly The Warlocks,” had brought back Help On the Way>Slipknot, and many of the fans in attendance on the 9th doubtless thought they’d already seen—or missed—the main action of this short run. Little did they know what lay in store—not only Dark Star, but also Death Don’t Have No Mercy (presented with a surprisingly effective updated arrangement) and Attics of My Life for an encore. Deadheads staggered away from Hampton in a blissful stupor, and the word spread.

    The crowd goes crazy at the sound of the familiar intro notes. There’s a rather short introduction, and Garcia does something new here, playing a kind of complementary lick on the bass strings rather than asserting the theme. The verse arrives after a mere minute, and by 2:20 they’re into the meat of the song. Garcia’s line is just as beautiful as ever here, and his sound is a bit more digital at this point, although he has a light touch with whatever effects he’s using until about 3:50, when he starts to swim in a reverb-y delay thing. Here the drummers are still banging away, but Weir seems game to make it strange, and Mydland seems to have gained some aptitude for weird Grateful Dead music in the interim since 1984. Lesh is active, but once again he has more of a supporting role than he was wont to adopt in the old days.

    At about 4:45 Jerry starts sliding into a more effect-heavy sound, though not all at once. Then at 5:10 the MIDI is fully unleashed, as Garcia’s guitar has become a marimba crossed with a flute. It’s batty, but pretty great. At 5:44 he becomes a bassoon—it’s hard to keep up with all of this! The band by now has shifted into a darker space, and the drummers have broken out of the relentless groove that, from our perspective, had lasted for 10 years now. Jerry fires out crazy woodwind lines, Weir’s playing follows a strange logic that seems to complement him, and Brent has cautiously moved out into terra incognita with them. Lesh seems to have sunk down into a low rumbly accompaniment that underpins the proceedings without suggesting anything entirely new.

    At 7:50 Garcia’s guitar is starting to sound like a guitar again. He starts a little frenetic jam, with Weir’s line echoing him with a slight lag, which is enough to get the headphone listener’s synapses sizzling. At 8:20 they come to a peak and back off immediately. Now there’s a meandering interlude, a moment of decision—will they return to the theme, or try something else? It seems to be the latter—they spin out into a section that is reminiscent of their more coherent space jams of the era. Weir has also fired up the MIDI at this point, and Brent seems entirely comfortable staying in the outer reaches. But at 9:44 Garcia signals the theme, and that’s where they go, and then we get the second verse.

    They follow the verse with a deeper venture into space. Garcia is playing some rumbly and ominous lines, while Weir weirds out on distorted guitar. Then they switch roles, at least texturally, as Jerry plays some keening distorted lead while Weir kicks on some oddball MIDI effect. Mydland is likewise rather mercurial with his sounds here, with piano-like flurries switching to a Hawkwindesque gale and back again. At 14:40 the band kicks up a windstorm, and there is an entirely new and different kind of musical peak than any we’ve heard in Dark Star to date.

    The music is rather hard to describe at this point, as it often is when they go into a space jam. It’s almost cacophonous at times, and entirely exciting. The much-maligned MIDI effects contribute to a totally psychedelic tour de force tonight; maybe this is how they’d have sounded in 1973 if they had the same effects then, as the space jams from that year are the closest prior analogue to what’s happening here. It starts to disperse at around 18:00; they no longer sound like they’re building something, so much as getting some parting shots in. Pretty soon they cede the field to the drummers.

    This is a bit short compared to many of the classic versions of yore. It’s a very powerful stretch of music, however. They seem much more committed to Dark Star here than they have since 1974, and the new technology adds an element that I found bracing but welcome. The one disappointment is that Lesh’s role still seems to be a bit diminished, but overall this is both a historical landmark and a successful rendition.
  6. Spearca

    Spearca Forum Resident

    Venue staff were alarmed. Looking around, "what just happened?" While 'heads are clutching at each other and howling.
  7. JSegel

    JSegel Forum Resident

    Stockholm, Sweden

    #185 10/9/89 Hampton: 19:23 – Formerly the Warlocks
    (I saw a show in CA a week prior to this one, no more Dark Stars for me. I mostly liked the drums and space parts at the show, hated most of the rest of it. )

    Sort of a messy intro, so many people cheering on the audience tape, for quite a while. They move into a leisurely groove, Jerry starts a lilting lead and Brent comes in on a key cascade into it. Thy hit the verse almost immediately at a minute in.

    Of course, the band is pretty square over the verse, no fermatas, only slight upward wandering from the bass. Jerry sounds pretty raspy. He’s old these days.

    Into the middle, more up and down leisure leads form Jerry, swingin’ it. He finds a couple little eddies, the keyboard/piano-synth thing is tinkling around. Bill starts chasing them a bit after a few minutes. Jerry switches his tone up by 4 minutes, they get into a more jazzy area. At 4:40 or so, he has his midi-follower on and goes through some tones, first one with a long reverby sparkle and then a pseudo-marimba. Wow that sounds very odd. Guitar is starting to sound like a lot of weird midi instruments, bassoon, etc. Bob has some effects like an octave up thing fuzz or something. Jerry stays on bassoon for a while, and starts to go outside the mode. Drums attempt to follow in waves. The lead strays to a new tonal area and organ comes in, the drums and bass start rolling on a groove for a minute. The guitar sound starts changing tone again, more synthy. Also sounds like Mickey has some awful clap and electronic tom samples from an e-drum. They bring it up to a crest right after 8 minutes. Down the other side, we rest in a valley with scary synth chords falling against tuned percussion swells. The guitar at least sounds more guitar-like for a while, he’s still playing lead and brings it back to the Dark Star groove by 10 minutes. Second verse? They stay at it for a bit and second verse at 10:40. All right!

    Band is chugging their way through the verse again, with some upward wandering again on line 3. Drums play into the refrain, finally allowing a space if only for a second.

    The refrain outro plays out into a descending bassline and back to scary synth sounds, now with stabs from Bobby, it goes full on monster movie for a bit, then he switches to a brass sound while the drums start with their weird stuff, and keys go wild. Fuzzy doubled tone on the low lead guitar sounds like he may go to Tiger world, but he takes it high in to a solo stretchy wailing section with feedback and big pull offs. The piano goes wile behind, Bobby clips away. At 14 minutes more feedback is coming in from bass maybe, the fuzzy lead is Tigering out. Guitars, piano strings and garage door springs being slid around on with lots of feeding back guitars. Odd triggered echo sounds come over. The bass starts a scary descent. The lead guitar has changed to a reverby trumpet now and seems to be playing jazz from the back of a hall against the sliding tones and feedback, piano madness.

    The lead changes to a flute organ sound, drums start up an attempt at something for a second at 17 min, settling into a bongo rhythm. Strikes on piano strings and bass, stretchy guitars. It fades off, bongos back in again, other hand percussion being swatted at, bell trees and goat toenails on a string. Piano strike effected through some massive spectral sweep, guitars still background noise, they fade and allow the drummers to move into their own rolling groove.

    New track, Drums, they roll against a drone, grooving on big toms. Suddenly a minute in, a huge electronic noise sound with echoes, it happens a few times before they bring it down to smaller sounds.

    They build it back to a groove, rolling along, both drummers, then it sounds more like only Bill after a few minutes, working out his rhythmic frustrations before Mickey comes back in with talking drums and some electronic drum hits or board echo playing in the large space (I’m listening to a matrix, I believe.) They hold a steady groove here for a while. The track is 9 minutes. Bill fades in and out a few times, the talking drum gets fed into the echo unit and then some spectral sweeps start messing with it in the 7th minutes, very weird. Fading in and out, the drummers play with the echoes. It gets even more weird as more musicians start to come in with feedbacky weird sounds.

    New track, Space, guitars come back, Jerry with midi-triggered sounds again. Bobby making chordal noises. Talking drum with echo continues. The audience is again yelling about it all. The guitar sound is a weird hollow tube percussion thing for a bit, then he switches it up to a more jazzy snap bass sound with echoes taking off from it. (Board maybe?) Also (electronic) tuned percussion happening, and dumb e-drum claps and whips. Hard to tell if the actual bass is coming it, Bobby has a modulating echo on his guitar stabs. Guitar goes more like fuzz guitar in the background, huge synthy sweeps take over in minute 4 into this, and then to flutey sounds. Lead guitar in and out in little riffs. When the waves crests, there are more spooky synth sounds underneath lurking. From this emerges a more guitar-sounding guitar occasionally, and back to the low fuzz.

    This last noise segues to Death Don’t Have No Mercy. Nice!

    Good version, all told, (Here I’m considering the whole sequence through Space, against the wishes of the list) though I have to say, both then and now, I don’t like the dumb midi-triggered sounds much. The idea is good, the implementation of classic orchestral synth sounds sounds cheesy to me. Did then, still does. But it did allow Jerry to continue exploring. And Mickey, as well, I guess.
  8. pbuzby

    pbuzby Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, US
    "Magnesium Night Light" on Infrared Roses is a good concise piece from highlights of this version (and from a multitrack with certain musicians isolated and others removed in Bob Bralove's mix/edit).
  9. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    1989-10-09. There's a full Playing>Uncle John>Playing combo before Drums, which in itself was unusual for '89. Coming out of the Playing out-jam, the Dead could have tried for a smooth segue with Dark Star, but no, they have to awkwardly pause before Jerry plays the intro notes. The laid-back east-coast audience barely reacts....ha ha, just kidding.

    The Dead are in full arena mode by this point, with big drums and loud Brent smothering the stage. They stumble through a brief & presentable opening jam; Jerry sings the verse after only a minute, maybe hoping to get the crowd hysteria calmed down. The jam after the verse gets right to business, and before long Jerry starts to layer on the effects. At 4m he's added a delay and after 5m he's trying out various MIDI sounds; but as Jerry gets weirder, the rest of the band also gets spacier. The drumming is more responsive, less restrictive than it was in Mickey's previous versions. Bob's also very busy with a bright tone, interacting a lot with Jerry. Phil tends to stay more on the low end, and Brent drenches everything in Brent sauce. At 7m Jerry's playing the Other One rhythm -- could it go that way? -- and after a flourish Jerry goes back to a more normal guitar sound at 7:50. (Some drummer's making some inappropriate electro-drum noises in the back there.) But the Other One flirtation plays itself out, and by 9m they're spacing out, floating tranquilly. Now Jerry sounds a bit more like his regular self while Bob & Brent have a MIDI tinge; Phil sounds kind of subdued & aloof. Jerry brings back the main theme at 9:50, the mood a lot calmer now, and they let it play out a while before Jerry sings the second verse at 10:40. (This one's a bit more relaxed than the first verse.)

    Here you'd expect Dark Star to end, but the Dead have a new twist up their sleeves, and they sail immediately into deep space (which hasn't been part of Dark Star in 15 years). Now it's a MIDI space, a deep drone underlying all manner of strange noises. Soon everyone is in MIDI bizarro-world, and things get wild with sheets of noise sweeping over the coliseum. By 17m they've calmed down again; more percussive effects come in, low notes making it sound like a horror-movie soundtrack, and somewhat imperceptibly they give way to Drums.

    Drums starts out in dark thunderous mode before eventually quieting down to a more "normal" drum duet. The electronics aren't held at bay for long, and it ends up in a sea of ambient reverb. Echoes & feedback introduce the rest of the band, and they resume their MIDI madness where they left off. After a couple minutes this settles down to Jerry noodling away while the others conjure up a clattering MIDI jungle. By 4m they're getting into scary-freakout mode again, and the mood gets quite dark & ominous (the horror-movie organ soundtrack again). After 6m it gets more peaceful & New Agey, but rather than relieve the audience, Jerry takes them to a death blues.

    Well, that was a trip! Reviving Dark Star, the Dead now deal with the question: can spacey weirdness be part of Dark Star again? And they answer, yes, with a full-on assault. Here they play a Dark Star>Space>Drums>Space, and when played this way, there isn't that much difference between the two Spaces (it could be Dark Star pt. 2 after the Drums). As far as the arrangement, they now do a somewhat regular (but still weird & spacey) jam between the verses, then turn to the deep-space freakiness at the end. (Also notice there are no theme teases in the jam at all this time, it strays closer to the Other One instead.)

    The other big change is the MIDI effects, which allow them to be quite aggressive & noisy, barraging the audience with an unsettling arsenal. Tom Constanten would feel at home here: this harks back not just to the '70s Dark Stars, but to the madness of Anthem of the Sun. It's indeed a close equivalent to the Tiger meltdowns of '73, but with the new element of surprise since you don't know what you're hearing or what's coming next. Back with a vengeance, Dark Star is dark, threatening, even suspenseful.

    There must be a dozen audience tapes for this one; I couldn't say which is best, they generally sound pretty good, but this one's really good. (Or if you prefer a more bassy sound, try this one.) Worth hearing an AUD for the audience reaction and the space chaos.

    P.S. bzfgt, the track time has been restored to the regular Archive player!
    Last edited: May 13, 2023
  10. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Southeastern PA
    #185 1989-10-09 There's a teased note and a brief pause at the end of the second PITB track and then they launch into Dark Star to rapturous crowd applause. This was such a big deal at the time and I remember hearing it on tape for the first time which was pretty exciting too.

    They move along with some pace and snappiness with Jerry blending in those low notes that bzfgt pointed out. There's a bouncy, joyous feel to the groove no doubt enhanced by the audience reaction. The drummers are banging away and Brent is pretty active too. After 0:25 Jerry's line gets a bit more watery and he works it to good effect. Before long though they ease up and move right into the first verse at 1:05. Jerry sings with some enthusiasm which was also probably influenced by the crowd.

    After the verse they briefly reset and Jerry embarks with some gusto but then quickly settles into something more dreamy and contemplative. He winds outward while Phil works underneath and they collectively work their way towards the ether. Around 3:50 Jerry introduces a delay that adds an ethereal feel. Things are getting spacier but there's still momentum and a sense of forward direction.

    By 5:10 they've arrived in MIDI-ville and Jerry introduces various digital instrument sounds. Bob's complimentary textures stand out more now and Brent attempts to add his own semi-freaky color. Jerry goes into bassoon mode and works low and the collective energy starts to build. The drummers are more intermittently complimentary now as opposed to going full force. Things take on an Other One feel starting around 7:00 as noted by Mr. Rain and they work up a minor cauldron here.

    Then around 7:45 Jerry shifts back to a more typical guitar sound and he gets into a repeating figure with Bob chasing. It still has a TOO-ish feel and they bring things to a small peak that crests after 8:20. From there they drift for a spell with Jerry and Phil working subdued notes and Brent adding periodic color. Bob starts getting weirder and more digital too. They explore this zone for a while and then Jerry starts heading towards the theme and they gently coalesce around that to crowd applause and then glide into the second verse.

    After the verse they head right into freaky, spacey territory. The song structure is quickly abandoned and they cast about in the void. Lots of MIDI experimentation as they get weird. Jerry's guitar howls out into the night and Bob and Brent add some frantic accompaniment and the whole thing gets good and freaky. The intensity rises and they conjure up a maelstrom. It's cool and scary and transports the arena into an entirely different dimension. Things calm a little but are still freaky and Jerry works a MIDI line while the collective creates a kind of space ship feel.

    By 17:00 they start to let it go and some more tribal sounding percussion comes in but there's still an ominous undertone. Some louder, freaky sounds return and then they spin up some low-key spacey weirdness for a bit longer before giving way to Drums. In this telling Drums and Space do feel like a continuation of what was happening and then comes just the second Death Don't Have No Mercy since 1970. Quite a night!

    A fun and engaging performance and the circumstances of its return as well as the crowd reaction are a fundamental part of its lore. MIDI is a double-edged sword but it works pretty well in a spacey, freaky context and at this point it was still fresh and different. Some more thematic work would have been welcome too but they delivered.
  11. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    MIDI, dividing Dead listeners to this day! I think it's pretty ghastly myself, however I think here it's used well within Dark Star. Partly because it's not so much "let's see what neat sounds we can find" MIDI, but "we're going to rip your skull off" MIDI.
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  12. Campaigner

    Campaigner Too late to cause a stir

    I've only had a limited exposure to Jerry's MIDI bonanza, but each time I've heard one I've come away with the thought that if by using MIDI, Jerry was re-invigorating himself in songs that he once thought were tired, then the good outweighs the bad.
    JSegel, bzfgt and adamos like this.
  13. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Southeastern PA
    Agreed; my comment was in the context of Dark Star (particularly the freakouts) and there are plenty of bad examples of MIDI use by multiple band members in the final years. Although I will say that there were also times that Jerry’s judicious use of things like MIDI flute in other songs worked pretty well. But then on the other end of the spectrum were things like the cheesy sax patches on Vince’s rig. So certainly a mixed bag at best.
    Last edited: May 15, 2023
  14. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    We'll see whether the Dark Stars to come veer more toward cheesy synth sounds or psychedelic apocalpyse....
  15. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler Thread Starter

    I hadn't listened to that Hampton DS in years.....I was surprised how kick ass it was
  16. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    Take a step back. .

    About 8min in. It takes a while for the band to appear on film but its pretty much the full version i believe, going into the magical performance of "Morning Dew".

    I love this "Dark Star"
    It's so uplifting in the first part. Garcia!!
    Bill Kreutzmann delivers a fantastic performance!
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  17. bzfgt

    bzfgt The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler Thread Starter

    186. 1989-10-16 140163 Meadowlands 17:07 (Dark Star I. 11:02; Dark Star II. 5:25)

    First verse at 5:37.
    Main theme at II. 2:08.
    Second verse at II. 3:49.
    I. goes into Playing in the Band, II. goes into Attics of My Life.

    Here we finally get to a Dark Star for which I was in attendance. After the crazy setlists in Hampton, we weren’t really expecting Dark Star to make another appearance so soon. Perhaps if the more savvy among us had heard the tape from Hampton we’d have thought differently, as the band had really committed to Dark Star there in a way they hadn’t done since before the hiatus. In any case, when they opened the second set with it in New Jersey, the audience was ecstatic.

    This time, they structured the whole second set around Dark Star. Weaving into the Playing in the Band>Uncle John’s Band>Playing Jam segment way this does makes the second set feel like one big jam. I will confine my remarks to the Dark Star segments, but this set should really be heard as a whole.

    Garcia starts out by talking around the theme before wending his way into a beautifully tortuous lead line. It’s not long before the Midi effects creep in; this time they form an aura around Jerry’s clean sound, somehow. Lesh is fairly prominent here, although they keep it pretty close to home, staying in a groove. At around 2:30 a horn tone comes out on Garcia’s guitar. He’s pretty mobile with the effects, and the clean sound keeps poking through.

    They have a really lush sound this time. Mydland continues to work his way further into the spirit of Dark Star. Tune in around the four minute mark, and all four front line players are weaving lines around each other to stunning effect. Weir drops back into chordal stuff pretty soon, though. Jerry keeps alluding to the Dark Star melody; they’re not going out, but they’re exploring a bit more before the verse this time, until it finally pops in without warning at 5:37.

    One thing that stands out on this one is how beautiful Garcia’s playing is, albeit in a more digital way than a 70s head would be used to. They plough right back into the groove after the verse. They get to around the 8 and a half minute mark before it sounds like it might be breaking up a little—there’s a turning point here. Garcia and Mydland lock in together at 9:15 and Weir, who seems to have a touch of MIDI going now, provides some hijinks with a sort of hybrid horn section/car horn bit. It slowly gets weirder, and by 10:30 finally seems to be heading out.

    Jerry launches some flurries and is echoed by Brent. Lesh is finally getting strange, and it all starts to go sideways. By 11:30, though, it all subsides and Garcia calls for Playing in the Band. There’s more good jamming to come, but for now this segment comes to an end right when it might have been heading out somewhere interesting.

    The three songs that remain before drums get into some pretty crazy MIDI-fied jams that in a way continue the Dark Star initiative, so it may not be apt to judge this one in isolation. Nevertheless, I’ll skip to the back half after the Space segment. I Need A Miracle trickles back into Dark Star, and now Phil Lesh is louder and more assertive than heretofore. They’re bringing it all back around, though, with the outer reaches having been visited during the Playing jam and Space, and they consequently maintain the groove here, although they allow themselves some indulgences in the form of MIDI effects.

    They take it into the main theme after a couple minutes, but instead of going right for the verse they luxuriate in the Dark Starness of it all for a while, finally getting to the verse at 3:49. They’re just wrapping it up at this point; anyway, if you skip all but the Dark Star tracks, you’ll have missed a lot. After the verse, they wind it right down and take it into an emotional reading of Attics of My Life (although it would be kind of hard to imagine an unemotional rendition!).

    This was a great set and a great experience. Taken in isolation, however, this Dark Star is nowhere near as exciting as the one from Hampton. On the other hand, they still seem to be into it, and fortunately there are several more excellent renditions to come.
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  18. anth67

    anth67 Purveyor of Hogwash

    You're gonna make me bust out Nightfall of Diamonds. Beyond overdue. This second set is a thing of beauty.
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  19. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    1989-10-16. Dark Star>Playing>Uncle John>Playing>drums>space>Home>Miracle>Dark Star reprise>Attics>Playing reprise.... The Dead are getting ambitious again! They hadn't split Dark Star in an interwoven suite like this since 6/24/70, and hadn't even interpolated another song inside Dark Star since 4/24/72. (Maybe you could count 12/31/78 with its Dark Star tag after the Other One, but that's pretty meager.) Are they up to the challenge?

    After the tuning mini-jam flourish, Jerry bungles the opening riff (not that anyone would notice in all the hollering). The opening jam is brisk and friendly. After a minute Jerry has a kind of midi echo around his notes, and keeps switching tones thereafter (after 4m, there's an extra tinkling sound added to his notes like Tinker Bell's flying around his guitar). Phil's very active, almost back to his old self though more laid-back. Meanwhile Brent's using the most irritating synth tone possible, smothering it everywhere in his overbearing manner. They smoothly wind down to the verse at 5:37, which despite Jerry's ragged singing is done in a jaunty manner. (Brent kind of sounds like TC gone mad.)

    They dive back into the jam afterward; the guitarists start going in a more subdued direction, but Brent keeps dolloping his Brent noise syrup over them until he catches on and tones it down a bit by 8m. Over a couple minutes they get more quiet and spacey, going a little "out" after 9m with a jazzy tinge. Some atonal sounds creep in, and then more midi effects from everyone, and it seems like they may be headed to a freaky space like on 10/9. But instead they pull up short; after 10:30 Jerry & Brent get lost in some fast runs, then at 11:15 Jerry pointedly announces the end of the jam and signals Playing in the Band. (The others aren't quite ready to follow, so there's an awkward pause til they can all start the Playing riff; I'm not sure this strictly counts as a >.)

    On 10/9 Playing>Uncle John>Playing had preceded Dark Star; now it follows. The first Playing jam features Jerry on his flute midi tone, then some mu-tron wap-wapping which takes them into more introspective territory before a solid Uncle John's. They have the choice of going back to Dark Star after Uncle John's, but Jerry moves to continue the Playing jam instead. The jam after Uncle John's gets pretty heated, the kind of wild freaky intensity that had been missing from the Dark Star (and perhaps the highlight of this set). After 5:45 in the Playing jam there's even a kind of Sputnik, which fits well. As sheets of drum noise take over, they wind down with a Playing riff reprise, then Phil & Brent jam a little longer before giving way to the drummers. Drums starts out as an actual drum duet and gradually gets more electronic; within a few minutes they're sailing up the river with Kurtz on a digital tide. After a long spooky reverberating drone, the rest of the band returns with percussive midi effects, and for a few minutes they frolic in a kind of wild jungle fantasia. It's all sound effects, a bizarro-Dead in some alternate universe. All the midi effects are quite at home in this psychedelic playland, offering a fresh tonal variety to the weirdness.

    Then after a couple of short songs, Jerry & Phil surprisingly take up Dark Star again coming out of I Need A Miracle, in a deft tonal shift that works. This is basically the Dark Star opening jam again, with some midi tinges after 1:30 but mainly played straight. This time they linger for a long time on the main theme, drawing it out pleasantly & almost hypnotically for a couple minutes before Jerry sings the second verse at 3:50. Brent keeps doing his stuff in the verse, and Jerry adds a rather distracting midi noise.

    Then the final Dark Star riff, and Jerry climbs down deliberately to an unexpected but wretched Attics. (Comparison with 6/24/70 here would simply be painful.) But that's still not the end: they return right to the Playing theme. No more jamming though, they're getting sloppy and ready to finish, so they quickly wrap up Playing with a rushed reprise.

    Here Dark Star isn't the centerpiece; instead it serves as the bookends of the set. The main action happens in the Playing jam, and Space. This time Dark Star is kept apart from the excitement, sticking close to the song part; when it does start to get out there, they rein it in and stick to the set plan, and the exciting parts take place elsewhere. Dark Star itself is mostly just pretty decoration, without much variation in the jam; the variety that formerly might have happened within different sections of Dark Star is now distributed around the rest of the set. Another thing that may drag it down (other than Brent's lack of taste) is that Jerry keeps poking around for different midi tones, which makes me feel like this Dark Star is all surface effects without going deep. But I can't grade it too harshly since it's obviously not meant to stand on its own, it's just one section of a larger symphony.

    Lots of audience tapes for this show, generally good-sounding; this one might sound the best (& maybe this one a close tie). Brent is reduced a bit which helps, but the digital haze pervading this performance I find a little more annoying on audience tapes, plus I'm finding the density of later-era Dark Stars is conveyed better on the SBD tapes. Audience tapes of earlier years could sometimes present shows sounding way more vivid & different than the boards; but even the clearest arena AUDs of '89 can just sound kind of muffled & cluttered in comparison.
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  20. JSegel

    JSegel Forum Resident

    Stockholm, Sweden
    For me, it's the timbre of the triggered sounds, that early FM-synthesis is sparkly in a way I don't like the tone of. I don't mind the pitch-following idea, and yes! If it allows them to explore, then all the better.
    I blame John Chowning at Stanford's CCRMA, he was developing that stuff and presented it at the Frost Amphitheater at electronic music shows that I saw Dead band members at (! sitting on the lawn with us. No Jerry though), before the band played there in ~1982. I think he sold it to Yamaha, and the DX7 happened, etc. I mean, hey, even Miles Davis had a DX7. It was the 80s. And I've seen other big electronic music dudes use similar sounds, like the synth-orchestra sounds, even from the other California electronic music world. No idea why they would allow that sort of generic pseudo-orchestra sound when the same people when operating analog synthesizers generated incredibly different sorts of timbres previously.
    Anyway. Ok, I'll try to keep the ranting down.
  21. JSegel

    JSegel Forum Resident

    Stockholm, Sweden
    #186 10/16/89 East Rutherford: 16:59 (11:36 + 5:23) – Nightfall of Diamonds

    This is good sequence, Dark Star starts off the second set and moves into PitB (which encloses UJB) before heading to Drums and Space, though comes out of them to I Will Take You Home and I Need a Miracle before coming *back* to Dark Star, moving into Attics of my Life and then back to a PitB reprise. Wow! Nesting dolls. In some ways I still think of both the drums and space sections as egested sections of Dark Star, you know.

    They futz around for a while before actually starting the riff and moving into the groove. Audience cheers massively. Jerry hits the start note of the vocal melody and takes it away, the band follows in bits with a blooping-around rhythm section, lead guitar plays shorter phrases with echoes from both echo units and from the keys. Sounds like a diffusion on the echo signal. Drums sort of plug away, Phil bobs up and down. They’re mostly keeping in time with the echoes. Sparkly digital FM keyboard sounds doubling the guitar midi now. Bobby’s got some weird filter/wah thing.

    Melody at 4:50, guitar with its midi follower sounds. Some dumb licks from Bob and Brent at 5 min, Jerry gets down with some more echo weirdness in fits and spurts and back to more guitar-like melody, verse comes in at 6 min. Wow, Jerry's voice sounds pretty aged at this point, raspy on the higher notes, sort of deep on the low notes.

    They sort of give way for a fermata at the end of the verse into the refrain. Crowd yells and they make it through the outro into yet more medium tempo drums and bass while Jerry and Brent doodle the higher registers. The guitar is more guitar like, though there’s still a lot of echo on it. He starts to add some more midi sounds by 8 or so minutes, oboe and then some percussion, it all goes a bit sideways about 10 minutes in. Atonal chords, weirding out echo midi stuff. Odd keyboard chords. They move into fast chromatics at 11 min, it holds in the fast freneticism for a while, then gives out at 12 and they move into Playing in the Band.

    Later in the set, after I Need a Miracle peters out, Jerry picks up the Dark Star thread again, with a sparkly midi-follower, though he heads off to a more distorted tone for a few seconds, then back to the guitar with midi-follower, Dark Star melodics by a minute into this section. Bobby goes for some distorted tones, while Jerry plays with the sparkle-follower. Are we getting another verse? They play around for a while while we wait, chasing their tails. Verse 2 at 3:40 into this section, almost a fermata on line 2, but not everybody goes with it. They finally allow a rest at the end of the verse into the refrain. They go through the outro and back for a second into a groove that peters out almost immediately into applause, and they begin Attics of My Life.

    (The midi-sparkle is tough to listen to.)
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  22. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident


    This one was tricky to review since the real heart of the set is Playing through Space; the Dark Star's just an added attraction, even a warmup if you will, just "eh" in hindsight.
    But just in these two '89 Dark Stars so far, you see how the Dead can deploy Dark Star differently now. They can use it as just a tune, separated from the real deep jam & Space of the set, or they can merge it with Space again for a big freakout. So they now have more options with Dark Star than they used to.
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  23. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Southeastern PA
    #186 1989-10-16 Dark Star kicks off and weaves back into an extended second set suite! The renewed vigor with which they were approaching the song continues. After some anticipation-building tuning they launch in to tremendous applause. After some dancing around the theme Jerry heads out on a line with Phil sounding full and buoyant underneath. Brent is quite active and Bob blends in his textures as well.

    After a minute or so some echoey effects seep in and then continue to come and go, almost like Uncle Albert is starting to kick in and you're not quite sure what's going on yet. The playing feels brisk and engaged. Jerry works a high, sharp line with Phil doing one of his own. Bob's raspy textures poke through intermittently with some prominence. Brent is a bit too active but he's trying to add in lots of flourishes and color.

    There's a thick collective tapestry being woven and they continue forth at a snappy pace with various effects coming into the mix. They start edging back to thematic territory and then move into the first verse at 5:37. Jerry's voice sounds a bit rough and strained but they maintain some pace and then launch right back into the jam.

    Jerry weaves high spinning up a dreamy, floaty feel. Brent is still overactive but they collectively start to slow up and create a more drifty feel while still maintaining forward momentum. They keep weaving with various MIDI effects coming and going but not taking over. By around 9:00 they've reached a hover point and then Jerry and Brent play off each other with Jerry ascending upwards and Bob bringing in some horn sounds. Phil keeps working his line and things get stranger and more electronic.

    By 10:07 it seems like they are ready to let it go but then they keep going with Jerry getting into to some fast moving notes that Brent jumps in on as well. They spin this up briefly and then start to ease up and contemplate what's next. Jerry signals Playing In the Band but it takes them a moment to reset and launch in. I agree that it's not really a ">" although it's not a dead stop either.

    PITB is upbeat and spirited before transitioning into a more contemplative and MIDI-fied groove. Things get spacier before they move into Uncle John's Band which is a pretty respite before kicking things up again in the back end. This leads back into a PITB jam where things get watery and freakier before eventually giving way to Drums and Space. Post-space brings I Will Take You Home and I Need A Miracle and by this point I can't imagine anyone was expecting a return to Dark Star.

    But as Miracle winds down Jerry and Phil smoothly shift back into Dark Star territory. There's a triumphant vibe initially that feels like a victory lap although the night is not over yet. They work the theme for a good spell settling into something a little more dreamy while continuing to keep it moving. Then they ease up and go into the second verse at 3:49. After the verse they quickly bring it down and out of the lull comes the lovely sound of Attics Of My Life starting up.

    After Attics there's a brief PITB reprise to close the set. And We Bid You Goodnight.

    A really good set-long sequence. Dark Star was the headline but not actually the meat of what took place. However it framed the set and made it special and they approached it with some vigor. I agree that the performance itself doesn't measure up to Hampton but it served its purpose well on this night.
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  24. pbuzby

    pbuzby Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, US
    I haven't heard 10/16/89 in a while but I remember that Dark Star as the calm version, in contrast to the turbulent one from 10/9/89. It fits with the family friendly vibe of the rest of the 10/16 set with I Will Take You Home and Attics.
    Last edited: May 20, 2023
  25. Mr. Rain

    Mr. Rain Forum Resident

    Ha, good summary of 10/16! Couldn't be more different from the vibe of the one coming up on 10/26/89....

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