So, I want to start with Thursday. First I'm using my new Dell 2 in 1 to post. It is lightweight and easy to take along, has a nice touchscreen keyboard. I'll have to learn how to post pictures to this thing but hopefully this old dog still has a few tricks in her.
Did I say go back to Thursday? How about a few words about 4th of July in Chicago first. The Dead announced a 3 night concert at Soldier Field with Bob, Phil, Mickey, Bill, Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasia, and Jeff Cimiento. They called it Fare Thee Well and billed it as a 50 year celebration and the last time they would play together. They picked Soldier Field partly because it's the last place Jerry played.
I tried to get mail order tickets, no go. I sat at the Hill's market the day the tickets went on sale on Ticketmaster, tried and tried but no luck. I ended up spending $2100. for 3 nights for a seat with a partially obstructed view. You gasp, me too, but there were lots of more expensive tickets than that. Hotel rooms started getting scarce so I booked a room downtown at $400. a night. At least plane fare didn't get jacked up like everything else.
It was worth every penny to see the boys and hear the music again. I'm usually pretty frugal but decided to splurge on this. The first show was Friday night, when I got to the airport, they said my flight had already gone. What? Now I think I had written down the flight number and time for our first flight to Oregon. Anyhow they were nice and put me on a later flight. I got to the hotel, checked in, grabbed my ticket and took off. Got to the Red line on the metro, followed some other Deadheads onto the train. The train started and I asked if they were headed to the show, good thing I did, they were headed somewhere else, planning to see the Dead on Sat. So, first stop I got off, ran around to the other platform to head back toward Soldier Field. From the metro to the stadium was a pretty good hike. The show had started when I got there but I was still pretty happy. Until I gave my ticket to the guy at the gate and he said, sorry Lady, this ticket is for Sunday night. Geez, what a cluster. He sent me all the way around the stadium (on the outside) to the ticket office. There they said that if I had bought them from Ticketmaster and my name was in the system they would let me in. Well I told them that I wished I had bought them from Ticketmaster because I had been forced to go to the secondary market and had paid about 5 times the face value price. No luck. I left the ticket office and tried to decided if it was worthwhile to try to get a cab back to the hotel, get the right ticket and come back or just give up for the day. Then Tenacious J kicked in. I saw another door, this was for will call. I went in and tried again. Same answer about Ticketmaster from the lady in the window. Behind her was a guy who must have been a boss, he'd heard the whole thing and had decided to take pity on me. He tossed a general admission ticket through the slot. I got a little verclempt and he waved me away with an "enjoy the show". It was about half way through the first set and I was in on the floor of the stadium.
I was too far back to see much of the stage but had good views on the jumbotrons. The vibe was fantastic. People shoulder to shoulder every where, twirling and dancing wherever there was space. I worked my way around trying to get a better view here and there. The music was wonderful, Trey did a great job playing Jerry's guitar parts and blending in on the vocals. By intermission my dogs were barking and I found a spot to sit for a while. We were lucky with the weather after so much rain we had 3 clear days that weren't stinking hot. Back on my feet for the 2nd set, when Mickey and Bill did the drum solo they showed it on a huge screen in the rear of the stadium. So cool to watch little by little as people noticed and turned around to watch. After the show I went out the south end where I'd come in, them realized I had to walk all the way north to the street the metro stop was on, then from the metro a couple blocks back to the hotel. I was pooped but had to soak my feet in cool water before I could go to bed because they hurt so bad. It's been a month and my big toes are still bruised from all the pounding.
Saturday and Sunday went a little more smoothly. I got to the stadium on time, with the right tickets, and had time to look around in all the tents with stuff for sale and activist groups. Had some great tacos and roasted corn in a cup with mayo and cheese. Found a drinks stand with Ciroc vodka and had a drinkie. My seat was in the 4th tier, 13 rows from the very top. Damn it was a climb and so far at the north end that all the equipment on stage blocked the view. But the screens were clear, the music was fantastic, I could dance when I wanted and sit to rest. A nice couple from Texas was beside me both nights and we got acquainted. Saturday night we could see the lights of the boats come in all around Navy Pier, and the fireworks. The band ended the second set with One More Saturday Night then did US Blues for an encore. I went down into the third tier for the last 2 songs and found a place with a good view of the stage. Then there were fireworks from Soldier Field. Spectacular!!
Sunday I went to the Museum of Natural History, they had a display of Dead memorabilia including a bunch of the decorated envelopes people had sent in for mail order tickets. I looked around at some of the other stuff including the fossilized bones of a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton. Very cool. But my damn feet hurt too much to stay too long. Sunday's show was just as good as the other nights. Bobby sang Friend of the Devil, his voice was rough. During Tennessee Jed I looked around and saw 70,000 people singing together. It was emotional for me. They closed with an acoustic In The Attics of My Mind. All 3 nights Phil said a few words of thanks from the band and asked everyone to sign up for organ donation. He had "Cody", the name of his liver donor embroidered on the cuff of his right sleeve as a reminder.
It was a wonderful experience, truly once in a lifetime. The people watching was el supremo, not just in the stadium but all over town as there were lots of hangers on without tickets. One thing that did surprise me was the people at the show with little kids. From infants to toddlers and on up. For the most part everybody was mellow, only one night I witnessed a huge argument. Just under the landing of the 4th tier was a "family" restroom, just a one holer but close to my seat with usually a short line. I was waiting to pee when the guy in the front of the line started arguing with a woman. Somebody had puked on her shoes and she wanted to cut in front of everybody else to go in and wash her feet. They guy had told her nicely to wait in line like everybody else, but she felt entitled and got all loud and abusive. He stood his ground and then something happened and medics came through and tried to get up the steps into the seats. Big Loud Ass wasn't paying attention and he moved her out of the way with his arm, not rough, just to make way. Ooolooo she went off, finally stomped away. So when the guy was in the toilet, back came BLA and her Big Loud Ass Bully husband. He wanted to know where the asshole was who had wronged his woman. I told him his woman had been the asshole and he looked kind of stunned. I told him I'd been there and had seen the whole thing and that the bitch needed to learn to wait her turn and move her fat ass when there is an emergency. He started to try to intimidate me, just then the guy came out of the toilet (he was about the size of a mountain) and the BLA woman and her husband decided to walk away. Ahh memories.
All in all it was wonderful, something I will never forget.