The B List: 10 Favorite Grateful Dead Bust Outs

We put this list together back in 2010 and since then a number of these incredible moments in Grateful Dead history have surfaced on YouTube. A few are audio-only YouTube clips, but a handful show the bliss and emotion from the crowd as they realize what they are seeing.

The Grateful Dead were a revolutionary act in a number of different areas. The Dead were one of the first major groups to change their setlist on a nightly basis and succeeded in making each show different. Throughout the years, the Grateful Dead built up a massive repertoire that made it easy for them to let certain songs fall by the wayside. Also, the group – or particular members of the group – weren’t interested in performing several tunes from their early days in the later years. Yet, the fans always seemed to wanted to see these rare songs and once in a while the band obliged.

This week’s B List looks at what I think are the ten best bust outs the Grateful Dead broke out over the course of their career. Some of the entries contain songs that disappeared for over a decade while others feature tunes that only went away for a few years. What mattered most to me was a combination of the crowd’s reaction, the quality of the tune and the quality of the performance. Let’s get down to business…

10. Cryptical Envelopment – 9/23/1972 > 6/16/1985 [791 Shows]

Downloads: Cryptical > The Other One > Cryptical
Stream: 06/16/1985

The studio version of That’s It For The Other One on Anthem of the Sun contains four sections, one of which is sung by Jerry Garcia and called Cryptical Envelopment. The Dead would play Cryptical into and out of The Other One from the late ’60s through the early ’70s, at which point the tune disappeared from the rotation until a fateful evening in 1985 at the legendary Greek Theater in Berkeley. The group performed Cryptical four more times that year and then never again.

9. Casey Jones – 11/02/1984 > 06/20/1992 [549 Shows]

Download: Casey Jones
Stream: 06/20/1992

There were all sorts of theories as to why the Dead stopped playing Casey Jones after 1984 including that Jerry promised not to play it – with its reference to being high on cocaine – as part of a plea bargain stemming from one of his arrests. We’re not sure what the actual reason was, but Deadheads went fucking bananas when the group busted out Casey Jones at RFK Stadium in 1992. The drummers used a locomotive airhorn during the Drumz segment and then used it again to kickoff the break out at the end of Space. READ ON for my eight favorite Grateful Dead break outs…

8. Ripple – 10/16/1981 > 9/3/1988 [459 Shows]

Download: Ripple
Stream: 9/3/1988

Not only did the Dead throw down at the Capital Centre on September 3, 1988 for two above-average sets, they also delivered a gorgeous electric version of Ripple as the encore. I get chills listening the crowd go ape-shit on this audience recording. Supposedly, a Deadhead with a terminal illness made a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the group to bust out Ripple. Luckily for everybody, the band complied.

7. New Speedway Boogie – 09/20/1970 – 02/19/1991 [1,371 Shows]

Stream: 02/19/1991

[Video From 9/24/91]

In February 1991, the United States was in the middle of the Gulf War and on the 19th were about to launch a ground assault on Iraq. With that in mind, the band launched into the biting New Speedway Boogie for the first time in over 20 years that night at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. I wish there was an audience copy on the archive so we could hear the reaction, but the soundboard version does allow us to hear how well the group performed the emotionally-charged tune.

6. Death Don’t Have No Mercy – 04/26/1970 – 09/29/1989 [1,320 Shows]

Stream: 09/29/1989

[Video From 10/9/89 Multi-Cam]

The Grateful Dead treated the Bay Area crowd to their first rendition of Rev. Gary Davis’ Death Don’t Have No Mercy in nearly 20 years on September 29, 1989. The group was firing on all cylinders as they started what would turn into an epic fall tour. Jerry tore the tune up from the opening notes to the last.

5. Here Comes Sunshine – 02/23/1974 – 12/06/1992 [1,213 Shows]

Download: Here Comes Sunshine
Stream: 12/06/1992

[Watch The Crowd Go Ape Shit]

The future of the Grateful Dead was in doubt after Jerry Garcia became ill following Summer Tour 1992. The group canceled their fall tour to allow their leader to heal and returned for a few shows in early December. At one of these December shows, the Dead dusted off the beautiful Here Comes Sunshine with a new arrangement. While I’m not a fan of the arrangement, I – and if you listen to the audience, plenty of Deadheads in attendance – was thrilled to see the song return to the fold.

4. Attics of My Life – 10/28/1972 – 10/09/1989 [1082 Shows]
Stream: 10/09/1989

As far as bust outs, you can’t beat the Hampton shows from 1989. Over the course of the two “Formerly The Warlocks” shows, the group dusted off Dark Star, Help On The Way, Slipknot! and this gorgeous Garcia/Hunter tune from American Beauty. I can’t even imagine what the vibe was leaving The Mothership that night.

3. Box of Rain – 07/28/1973 – 03/20/1986 [777 Shows]

Download: Box of Rain
Stream: 03/20/1986

The “let Phil sing” contingency finally got their way after a prolonged period of no Phil vocals that ended in Hampton on March 20, 1986 with the bust out of Box of Rain. This first set closer sent many Deadheads to the venue’s payphones in an attempt to share the news with their buddies. After a fairly terrible Althea, Bobby stepped to the mic and said “now we’ll show you that practice makes perfect” before the band launched into a solid version of Box of Rain.

2. Dark Star – 07/13/1984 – 10/09/1989 [359 Shows]
Stream: 10/09/1989

While Dark Star had been performed five years previously at the Greek, making this the shortest gapped break out on this list, so much had changed for the band in the period between that night at the Greek and this night at The Mothership. Tons of new fans had gotten on “the bus” and there were still plenty of fans who weren’t lucky enough to be at The Greek or at any of the spots where the group had performed Dark Star. There’s nothing quite like the extended audience reaction to this break out of Dark Star.

1. Unbroken Chain – 03/19/1995 [Never Performed]

Stream: 03/19/1995

For many years rumors circulated among Deadheads that the band would finally perform Unbroken Chain, the Petersen/Lesh classic from Mars Hotel. The rumors finally panned out a Sunday night at The Spectrum in Philadelphia during what would turn out to be the group’s last show at the venue. To say the crowd exploded with delight would be a major understatement. The Grateful Dead’s last major bust out would turn about to be the best.

That’s my take on Grateful Dead bust outs. Were you at any of the shows? Do you feel differently about the quality of these break outs or think other bustables deserve to be on this list? Let us know by leaving a comment below…

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39 Responses

  1. I was at 3/19/95 and I will still say it was the most surreal concert moment i ever experienced. Everyone in that room was on the same page, everyone knew how huge it was. a great example of strangers stoping strangers…..just to give HUGS

    10/14/94 was my other favorite bustout.. DUPREE

  2. great post today! hours of fun checking these shows out. THe Dark Star bustout has always been my favorite, but all of these are cool. Miss the good ol’ Grateful Dead.

    you should do one of these for Phish.

    I’m alwasy interested if there are other bands out there that had Unbroken Chain type moments with a big bust out? I know Ween has had some over the years.

  3. I was as at the Pyramid in Memphis two weeks later and they played Unbroken Chains as an encore… Great times.

  4. uring what would turn out to be the group’s last show at the venue. To say the crowd exploded with delight would be a major understatement.

    I believe I was sitting in a cop car in the lot at this point for underage drinking.

  5. I was fortunate enough to have attended a few of these wonderful break outs. the contrast between Cryptical 85 at the Greek and UBC 95 in Philly was like yin and yang. I have to disagree with ginz not every one one was on the same page in Philly. I was shut out of the mail order for the 1st time, luckily my friend came through with side of the stage seats ,which wouldn’t have been a prob. had the sound been better. I didn’t even know what song it was until I finally made out Phil sing the word OWL….WHY because the audience was SCREAMING. and it lasted way too long. All I could surmise that a lot of people were more interested in saying “I was there” than actually listening to the music…can’t be listening when you are screaming! … still have a bad taste in my mouth….so remember acknowledge,appreciate …then STFU and listen …. Mahalo and Malama

  6. honorable mention:

    St Stephen – 10/11/83 (352 shows)
    Loose Lucy – 3/14/90 (979 shows)
    I’m a King Bee – 12/8/93 (1453 shows!)

  7. This is a great piece! Kudos on a job well done. I was at Compton Terrace for the Here Comes Sushine and it was a tremendous moment — the weather had been mostly crummy before the shows that weekend with major storms in the SW. But, naturally, the sun came out just before Day 1 of the weekend as I recall — joyous afternoon 1PM shows. The “Sunshine” on Day 2 as an opener, esp. with the a capella intro, caught everybody offguard and the place went bananas…beautiful.

  8. That 12/6/92 Here Comes Sunshine was my first Dead show. As a newb I had no idea the significance of the bust out, but it was an amazing way to start a great show. In retrospect, the song cuts in a few seconds into the opening notes – a technical glitch that just makes it all the more memorable.

  9. Don’t forget these classics:

    Bid You Goodnight: 12/31/78 – 7/17/89 (Alpine)…756 shows

    Lovelight – 5/24/72 -10/16/81 (Milkweg in Amsterdam)…581 shows

    Gloria – 1/30/68 – 10/16/81 (preceded, then segued into Lovelight above!)…1094 shows

    Loose Lucy – 10/19/74 – 3/14/90 (Landover)…979 shows

    Easy to Love You: 9/3/80- 3/15/90 (Landover — Phil’s 50th B-day)…673 shows

    Black Throated Wind: 10/19/74 – 3/16/90 (Landover…3rd bustout in a 3 night run!)…981 shows

    Comes A Time: 10/2/80 – 6/14/85 (Greek)…331 shows

  10. Might I suggest a Fav Grateful Dead Bust-Outs- The Covers version?!!

    Dear Mr. Fantasy
    Day Tripper
    Ballad of a Thin Man
    Gimme Some Lovin
    Visions of Johanna
    The Mighty Quinn
    That Would Be Something
    The Last Time
    All Over Now
    Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
    Keep On Growing
    Baba O’Riley
    Desolation Row
    Louie Louie
    Broken Arrow

    and the list goes on and on and on…

  11. Great additional bust outs everybody. I will be sure to put together both a covers edition and 10 More Amazing Bust Outs featuring the suggestions you made.

  12. i witnessed 4 of the 10 bust outs..late to the game (or a new fan as some older hippies might say) but I still insist I saw some amazing music during that time….I saw the Casey Jones, Attics, Dark Star and Unbroken Chain. I will tell you that Hampton has ALWAYS been the mothership….the Warlock shows and JGB shows were always magical there…not to mention branford sitting in a few times (brought my parents to the MSG show with branford and the MONSTER shakedown opener) and in Albany as well. I miss those days and that music. Thanks for the memories. hi Scotty B 🙂 -Jackie

  13. I caught five of these ten. Nothing beats the Dark Star crowd reaction at Hampton, but after the Attics it REALLY got special. The band played Attics, and at the end the crowd went nuts, as expected. The band says bye and leaves the stage, and the lights come up. We all start packing up our gear. Then, after about five minutes, a spontaneous cheer starts in the crowd and swells and swells until the whole auditorium was AGAIN cheering on the same level as when they began the Dark Star. That cheer went on and on…it was an amazing acknowledgement of the sum of those two Hampton shows. I saw 130+ shows from 84 to 95, and those two will forever stand out in my mind.

  14. What about the St. Stephen at the Marin Civic? Crowd went absolutely nuts after the first two notes. And the Touch of Grey at Jerry’s first show back, crowd went crrrrrazy, it was magical!

  15. This is GREAT Scotty! Can’t wait to listen though all these.

    Since you’ve been entertaining suggestions, might I also request a Phish edition?


  16. ok…one more quick story…i know it’s not a GD bust out but when they played The Weight for the first time at Nassau Coliseum (don’t ask me the date, i’m burnt) it was amazing to be a part of…the energy was insane. It was amazing, the playing wasn’t perfect by any means, but the vibe was certainly exciting. When the song was over, my friend Danny and I looked at each other and said, “well, how do you top that?!?” And then they broke into one of the best Hey Pocky Ways that I ever heard…again, maybe it wasn’t the BEST version ever, but it blew our minds…just thought i’d share.

  17. Loose Lucy at cap center is on my list
    as well as black throated wind. I forget where.
    the Gloria from Richmond 85 should hit the cover list..
    that one blew the building up.

  18. oh and BTW. I caught the ripple. dark star. attics. casey jones. as well as the Loose Lucy and for the ripple. I had heard the guy they did the song for left during OMSN to set up to sell stuff and missed the Ripple.

  19. Ah you missed St. Stephen in the Garden Fall of 83. I was at #2,3,4,6,9,and 10 shows on your list. Nothing even remotely compared to that moment. Listen to the audience tapes if you dont believe me.

  20. also not included:

    the late ’77 bustouts of China>Rider and Truckin (only a few years since last played, but certainly significant)

    the other three Dark Star bustouts: 12/31/78, 12/31/81, and 7/13/84

  21. December 1992, storms across the country. It took us 12 hours to get from NJ to AZ, where Phoenix was under water, forecast for the weekend called for more and more.

    But the masses arrived, and low and behold hours before the Saturday show, the sky’s parted.

    Day 2, basking in that glorious desert sun, was when the boys broke out Here Comes Sunshine.

  22. i was lucky enough to be in philly that night, and to say magical would be an understatement. strangers hugging strangers, you couldn’t rip the smiles off of everyones face. 19,000 heads all on the same page. cant think of any comparison that comes close.

  23. Great list, Scotty! I can remember missing the Casey Jones bust out by one show but I was still too new to understand how big of a deal it was at the time.

  24. A couple of other great ones –
    Black Throated Wind – 3/16/90 (albeit slightly modified lyrics)
    Loose Lucy – 3/14/90
    You mention it, but I think you aslo have to include the 10/8/89 Help>Slip.

    I was somehow lucky enough to be at both the 10/9/89 and 9/3/88 shows. I still get chills when I hear the Dark Star intro from that night.

  25. I was lucky enough to be at the 10/9/89, 6/20/92 and 9/3/88 shows.

    The first notes of Dark Star were truly something I will never forget. Literally you could just feel a burst of energy explode in the cloud.

    The Landover 90 bust outs and the St Steven 83 were probably the main ones missing from the list, but you can include only 10 and you have 10 good ones.

  26. I was there for “Ripple,” “Here Comes Sunshine” and “Casey Jones” though for the latter two I had heard them soundcheck the songs a few times (I was tabling for an environmental group), which was thrilling–especially in Tempe where our table was right on the lawn and we couldn’t contain our joy–but it took some of the luster away from the actual bust outs. And sadly the strict policing inside and outside the Cap Centre and my own head space took some shine off the Ripple.

    My favorite bust outs were The Reuben at the Cap Centre and Hey Jude in Hamilton. And though it wasn’t a bust out, seeing Unbroken Chain at my last show (at Shoreline) brought things full circle, especially since it was the one show I almost didn’t make it in for. (I came this close to seeing the Box of Rain bust out as my first show, but I had midterms).

  27. St. Stephen at the garden in 1983, probably had the biggest crowd reaction of any bust out. Certainly more intense than anything here. This is a good list though, thanks.

  28. Glad to have caught a casey jones, ripple & new speedway……All at Deer Creek…. If I recall correctly?

  29. Agree with the St Stephen in NYC — I thought the Garden was going to fall off the suspension cables!

  30. My favorite bust-out experiences were the first “All Around the Watchtower” at the Greek, where I could hear the wave of recognition swell up behind me and the debut of “Gimme Some Lovin'” at the best show I ever saw, 11/2/84 at Berkeley Community. That show also had the last Casey Jones before the drought on this list.

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