No show in Grateful Dead lore holds a mystique like 5/8/77, when Jerry Garcia and company took the stage at Cornell University’s Barton Hall field house and a word-of-mouth spectacle was born.
The show is often called “the greatest Grateful Dead show of all time”, widely cherished by Deadheads for its nearly perfect set list, signature jams, and a pristine audio recording of the show. Despite the show’s rabid popularity, tapes and discs of 5/8/77 made the rounds for decades without ever being officially remastered or released until 2017, some 40 years after the fact.
Musically, 5/8/77 is the Grateful Dead throwing a no-hitter – rare for a band that leaned into their many flubs and flaws on stage in the spirit of the moment. The show opens with “New Minglewood Blues”, with Bobby Weir roaring out that his number one occupation “is stealing women from their men.” The tone is set after that, with a first set filled with notable set one staples, including many of the Dead’s rough-and-tumble cowboy saloon anthems: “Loser”, “El Paso”, “Jack Straw”, “Deal”, “Brown-Eyed Women”, and “Mama Tried”. The set ends with a 16+ minute cover of “Dancing In The Street” – a full throttle boogie.
Set two is a magical tapestry of Grateful Dead psychedelia in its purest form: An 11-minute “Scarlet Begonias” set opener, seguing into a 15-minute “Fire On The Mountain”. Next tup, the mysteriously noirish love letter to their home state of California, “Estimated Prophet”. This is chased by “St. Stephen” six years before the Dead shelved it forever, followed by a jammed out “Not Fade Away.” The set ends with “Morning Dew”, highlighted by Jerry Garcia melting minds on his iconic Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar.
“One More Saturday Night” sends it home as the encore.
Thanks to Betty Cantor-Jackson’s perfectly mixed soundboard recordings making their way to cassette tape, the show went viral before anyone had an idea what that meant. The sound of the music is warm and the overall accessibility of the music makes it a perfect choice for any analog-era novice that wants to dip their toes into the world of live Grateful Dead shows, all without the need to purchase an entire album.
It’s the show that fueled many-a acid-brained conspiracy theory, including the one that 5/8/77 was an MK Ultra-esque psy-op run by the CIA. Some believe it actually never happened.
Stream Dead And Company Cornell 2023
What better place to kick off Dead & Company’s final tour?
Tonight, May 8th, Dead & Company will play a charitable show at Cornell University’s Barton Hall. If you’re not going IRL, the only place to watch a Dead and Company Cornell stream is on nugs.net.
Two of the original members of the Dead will be in attendance (Bob Weir and Mickey Hart), with John Mayer on guitar. This concert is a charitable event, with proceeds going to the Recording Academy’s MusiCares organization, which provides important health and welfare services to people working in the music industry. Additionally, funds will also benefit Cornell University’s 2030 Project, which aims to address climate change through a combination of science, scholarship, and innovation.
Tickets currently start on Stubhub for $890 a pop. There’s a Cornell student GA section, which is quite a treat for students.
For those of us who can’t make it to Ithaca, you can stream this intimate Dead & Company concert via nugs.net. The Dead and Company Cornell stream is $15 if you sign up for a nugs.net subscription or $30 if you just want to buy it on its own.
As a Deadhead, this is a once-in-a-lifetime musical event that you can’t miss.
Turn on, tune in, drop out.