The long strange trip makes its final stop.
Deadheads from all corners of the world flocked to San Francisco’s Oracle Park Sunday night to see iconic jam band the Grateful Dead’s successor, Dead & Company, play the last show of their ‘Final Tour.’
The surviving members of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart — along with singer-songwriter John Mayer, ex-Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and newly added drummer Jay Lane (who replaced one of the band’s original drummers, Bill Kreutzmann, for the final tour) — thrilled fans in the town where the original Dead was formed in 1965.
Kicking off the three nights of their final tour on Friday, over 40,000 fans packed into the ballpark each night, with all three shows sold out.
Deadheads were treated to some of the band’s more popular but cherished tunes, like “Bertha” and “Althea” during their first set, and after the intermission, heard Mayer slide on the guitar and bop around on stage to the likes of “Help on the Way” and “Cumberland Blues.”
The band’s encore and final performance ever ended with “Truckin’,” “Brokedown Palace” and final send-off “Not Fade Away” — accompanied by a dazzling drone performance above the stadium — before Dead & Company gave their last bow to the audience as a band.
For Deadheads tuning in via live stream through Nug.net — a live concert streaming service that had the exclusive rights to broadcast the show — the experience was less than ideal, with many missing segments of the show due to login issues or not being able to log in altogether for the final hurrah.
‘The Final Tour’ started in Los Angeles on May 19, spanning to major US cities like New York and Chicago.
Showing love from the Big Apple, the Empire State Building took “tie dye to the skies,” illuminating the building in rainbow colors in honor of their final performance.
Dead & Company breathed new life into a fading culture after its formation in 2015.
It expanded its already diehard fan base to new lengths when adding Mayer to fill in the enormous shoes left by legendary frontman Jerry Garcia — who died of a heart attack in 1995.
Traditional Deadheads were originally against the idea of Mayer — commonly perceived as a popish, billboard guitar player due to some of his solo work — being integrated as one of the faces of their decades-old lifestyle when it was first announced eight years ago.
The guitarist first discovered the band in 2011 when he heard “Althea” during a random streaming session.
“When Grateful Dead music found me, it was the perfect moment,” Mayer said in a 2016 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, “For me, [Grateful Dead songs] rekindled the color of music.”
After linking up with Weir years later in 2015 for a jam session, the two rockers began laying the groundwork for Dead & Company.
After the first summer tour, it became apparent to many that Mayer’s fluency and freedom with scaling the guitar, charismatic mannerisms on stage, and blues-toned voice played homage to Garcia and became a beloved and embraced addition to the scene.
Mayer brought with him an explosion of younger millennials and Gen Zers, who were quickly exposed to the band’s thick catalog of live performances, with some even connecting with their parents over the music due to the band’s span through multiple generations.
“I know that the music will continue, but it’s heartbreaking to see ‘my’ version of the Dead end,” Aidan Chism, 22, of Illinois, told The Post — saying he went to his first Dead & Company show in 2016 with his dad, and has been to 13 since.
“The memories will always be tied to bonding with my dad, and the transitional periods of my life from high school, through COVID, and now college. I’ve met so many friends traveling to shows, and have introduced my own friends to the music and they’ve fallen in love with it.”
The band has toured regularly each summer since 2015 — except for 2020 due to the pandemic.
Weir, 75, was only 16 years old when he met Garcia in Palo Alto in 1963 — forming a jug band with the banjo player-turned-guitarist, that would later transcend into the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead — announced in September of 2022 that Dead & Company would be hanging it up after the 2023 tour.
“Well, it looks like that’s it for this outfit,” Weir tweeted. “But don’t worry we will all be out there in one form or another until we drop.”
But Weir, along with drummer Hart, is no stranger to goodbyes.
In 2015, months before Dead & Company’s formation, the band, including original bassist Phil Lesh and second drummer Kreutzmann, had their ‘Fare Thee Well’ tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead.
The tour would also be the final time the musicians would all perform together under the original band name.
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