By Chace Black
June 12, 2016
Dead & Company brought their six piece power group to Charlotte, NC on Friday night to kick off their 24 date Summer Tour. The anticipation could be felt throughout the crowd before entering through the gates. In all my years attending PNC Music Pavilion, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger crowd. Tickets were scarce, and because of demand, the box office raised the price for a single ticket to over $150 by show time.
Being the first show of their Summer Tour, this was an event that loyal fans traveled from all over the region to come to Charlotte, North Carolina to see. Dead & Company consists of Grateful Dead’s original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann along with newcomers John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge.
The band launched into their first 7-song set with the funky “The Music Never Stopped,” as Weir took lead on vocals. For their second song “Cold Rain and Snow,” Mayer took over the lead vocals, much to the crowds delight. They continued to cruise through the set playing classics such as “Friend of the Devil” and “Liberty.”
During a brief intermission, Grateful Dead’s famous ‘Steal Your Face’ logo was displayed with a rainbow flag as the background. Despite the controversial HB2 law, Dead & Company decided to play their lone show in North Carolina, while donating $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina. They would be more vocal on the matter later in the show.
The second set was kicked off with “Eyes of The World.” It was clear this set the band would be improvising and jamming for the rest of the night. Mayer, proved throughout the second set why he was chosen to fill in for the legendary Jerry Garcia. He played virtuosic guitar throughout the set and took over on songs such as “Deal” and “Estimated Prophet.”
The highlight of the night had to be the ominous “Feel Like a Stranger” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Bob Weir controlled the tempo and showed off his own polished music chops. Dead & Company then ripped through their closer “Turn On Your Lovelight.” Because of the 11pm curfew there would be no encore.
All six band members took a bow to a standing ovation. Bob Weir then urged the crowd to go out and vote and to get those in office out, clearly frustrated and referring to those responsible for the HB2 law. Oteil Burbridge, wearing a rainbow flag shirt, then approached the mic and yelled “Keep the Queen in Queen City.” Dead & Company made their message clear, to love each other, stop discrimination of all kinds, and enjoy some damn good music.
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