The bus came by and I got on. That's when it all began.
No, Neal Cassady was not at the wheel, and Ken Kesey was not on board. But the yellow school bus that pulled out from the parking lot of the Snyder Bar & Grill on Tuesday afternoon bound for the Dead & Company show at Darien Lake was full of folks I'd happily describe as Merry Pranksters.
The Snyder contingent of the Buffalo Grateful Dead family was a rowdy but civilized group of folks. We were united by our love for the Dead, and positively pumped to see this contingent of the band that, with guitarist/vocalist John Mayer, has become the pre-eminent post-Jerry Garcia incarnation of the band.
We emerged from the back lot reserved for the many buses and limos commissioned to carry Deadheads from across Western New York to the show, to take in the carnivalesque vibe of the "Shakedown Street" pop-up arts, crafts and weirdness village, and made our way into the venue just as the band – Bob Weir, Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, joined by Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti – launched into opener "Cold Rain and Snow." The band hit its stride with a spirited take on Bob Dylan's "Queen Jane Approximately," before taking off for the upper ether as Burbridge sang "If I Had the World to Give." "Here Comes Sunshine" and "Let It Grow" capped a first set.
Set two was all about the "Dark Star" within that was sandwiched by a smoking "Truckin'/Smokestack Lightning," and the strident power of one of the strongest versions of "Deal" I've heard in ages. The surviving members of the Dead are enjoying a late-life renaissance these days. I'll gladly get on the bus again, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
Dead & Company, June 19, Darien Lake Amphitheatre