Fare Thee Well: The Grateful Dead's Final Stand at Soldier Field July 09, 2015 09:40
When I awoke and drove in to work on Friday, January 16th, I was already excited and knew that I was in for a long day. Several of us were heading to the Charleston Pour House for four rotating sets of Phish and Widespread Panic, courtesy of tribute bands Runaway Gin and Machine Funk. Sometime around noon, my phone started to light up with calls and text messages asking if I had heard the news. The rumors were officially true: The Grateful Dead were playing a three-night run at Soldier Field over the weekend of July 4th. To make things even sweeter, Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, and Jeff Chimenti were all set to round out the lineup. Any chance at the slightest bit of productivity that afternoon was officially shot, and a hotel reservation in Chicago was made immediately.
In order to honor their creative tradition, the initial ticket offer was made via mail order, in order to ensure that the band's total ticket allotment would be available only to those willing to make the extra effort. Elaborate, Dead-themed artwork was encouraged on each envelope. Over 500,000 ticket requests were received, leaving just a ten percent chance of "winning the lottery." The overwhelming response led promoters to adjust the seating arrangement to accommodate more guests. Peter Shapiro, the event's organizer and head promoter, gave his word that the level of production would provide all mail order ticket holders with an amazing experience.
On April 10th, more rumors were confirmed when the band announced that their final run would now consist of two additional shows at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA on June 27th and 28th. It only seemed right that the band make a return to the Bay Area, where it all officially started 50 years prior. Much debate surrounded the band's selection of Anastasio on lead guitar, as past Dead lineups have included many other amazing guitarists such as Warren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Jimmy Herring, and John Kadlecick in that role.