My first outdoor concert of the summer season was at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Dead have been back together now for one year. For the most part, each of the guys in the Grateful Dead has his own band, and have been playing since Jerry passed away.
We arrived about 4:30 p.m. and headed into a makeshift festival organized by the Dead Heads in the massive parking lot of the Tweeter Center. Everything was for sale, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese everywhere ("it is just a buck, what the f*ck"), "goo balls" (some type of meat or something), and, of course, drug filled treats. Ecstasy, mushrooms, and fluorescent tie-died shirts. I love you Alice B Toklas brownies were also available.
Thousands of people from baby Dead Heads to doggie Dead Heads and GrandPa and GrandMa Dead Heads. It really did not matter what type of shape the people were in, from guys with huge fat beer bellies, skinny to athletic bodies, and shirts came off as soon as possible. People just wanted to be naked. Peace, love and drugs.
At 7:00 P.M. the masses began to gravitate to the amphitheatre. Amazing how beautiful this concert facility is, on the river with a battleship stationed right there. Tweeter has an amazing gallery of photographic displays of the legendary groups who have played it in the past, including Neil Young, U2, Ozzie, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, the Stones, and more.
There was a Tiki Bar in Tweeter and people drinking long vials of alcohols that were shaped like a guitar. Bizarre. Two sodas, $10.00.
Finally, the Dead started playing. People immediately sprang to their feet and filled up the rest of the seats at the same time. Security was tight and no smoking was allowed. The not allowed was quickly dropped, and everyone lit up at the same time, from joints to huge bongs. I was sitting in a cloud of smoke and it was unavoidable not to get stoned.
If you have never seen a Dead Head dance, it is pretty strange. It is obvious that they are either on acid or having flashbacks while doing the Dead dance. Most people looked pretty cool. Of course, I got up and danced also. I was watching the crowd closely. I wanted to see who would still be standing by the end of the show. One yuppie looking guy who was really tall and thin, wearing a bright purple shirt, broke out into an insane dance that reminded me of a psychotic marionette.
The crowd was split. On the grass, Dead Heads with no jobs. In the seats, Dead Heads with jobs. Someone launched 30 balloons at once in all colors. They bounced around the crowd until the end of the show. There was only one point when people sat down, when each of the musicians did an extended solo. The two drummers were banging away on bongos, congas, and drum sets, while a laser like rock show performed in the background. Pretty trippy. The drums were so loud I could feel the ground shaking.
I took a break and ran to the women's room to check out more of the scene. Many Dead Head guys did not understand what a female bodybuilder was doing at the show. Apparently Dead concerts do not draw the same crowd as the Olympia. The guys were cool to me, and I happily gave out my website addresses and told them to read this blog on Monday. Hi Guys!
Bob Weir and Phil Lesh were encouraging the crowd to go out and vote. They did not say for whom to vote, but they winked and we all knew their candidate of choice. They were also encouraging us to become organ donors, but let us face it, if I were laying there sick would I want some used Dead Head organs. Seemed ridiculous to me. But I did get a good laugh.
The show went on for over 4 hours. Some of the Dead Heads had overdone it and were slumped over and stoned in their seats. People were really friendly on a beautiful, windy, and cool summer Sunday evening. On the way to the car I found lots of things on the floor. Baseball hats, shorts, money, and rubber gloves.
I am going to start a new workout called "Dead Head Workout". Guaranteed to lose 2,000 calories per show (alcohol gain not included). See you at the next Dead show.