Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day Eighteen

December 18

Dark Star > Comes A Time
7/18/72 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ

Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was not a pretty place to see a concert but the Grateful Dead sure seemed to thrive there. Go figure. In fact, some of their most epic shows were played at Roosevelt Stadium – the birthday show from 8/1/73, the “hydroponic Eyes” show from 8/6/74 (Dick’s Picks, Vol. 31) and the Dark Star from 7/18/72 which is the focus of today’s selection.

[Roosevelt Stadium – Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NJ,9-JERCI,16-22]

Instead of transitioning from Truckin’ into The Other One as was common at the time, the Dead switch things up and ease into Dark Star. This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Dark Stars. The pre-verse jam stays close to the main theme and is an exploration of melodious beauty and nirvana while the post-verse segment is avant-garde, atonal, terrifying weirdness.

Similar to the Star from 11/11/73 (Winterland), the band starts off with a very relaxed introduction indicating that they are taking their time and want to stretch this one out. The message is the musical equivalent to Harpur College where Jerry tells the audience to “Relax, we’ve got you all night.”

The music drifts in a dream-like state for about 10 minutes. It truly is a joy to behold. At times Jerry’s guitar gets a little twangy as was the theme with much of this show (see Tennessee Jed for the best example). Eventually, Jerry picks up the pace and finds an exciting theme that leads into the first (and only) verse. Jerry’s singing is exceptional.

Without wasting any time they leave all comprehension of the song as Phil plays deep and slow descending notes that dissolve into the unknown. Say farewell to Dr. Jekyll and his melodic, happy hippie smilefest you just enjoyed because things are about to get very heavy, very demented and very strange. Enter, the evil Mr. Hyde who serves up a sinister cocktail of shrill harmonics, overbent notes and oversaturated bass.

The music turns dark, discordant and abstract as the band casts themselves deep into oblivion, searching for new and uncharted areas of the universe. At about the 22 ½ minute mark Jerry delivers a massive and devastating “Tiger” meltdown that must have completely annihilated Roosevelt Stadium. In its aftermath we are left with some violin tapping followed by sharp, angular chording which is finally resolved with a “Sputnik” jam at about the 26 minute mark (see the Dark Star from Live/Dead at about the 11:40 minute mark for the best known example of this kind of jam). This melts into a jewel-like Comes A Time that is beautiful in contrast to the preceding mayhem. Described best in the blog, “Comes A Time is nothing short of a church service where the light of the Lord is cascading out from the stage. Jerry’s solos just burn into your heart.”

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