Scrolling Headlines:

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

Furthur than the average reunion band

The setup was simple: A jungle of eclectic musical instruments drenched in a soft purple light, as white-haired roadies went about their quiet work in the silence before the dawn.

Further: Photo Slideshow

 As the doors opened at the Mullins Center, the peaceful masses slowly trickled in and pooled into an unwashed, anticipatory pit crowd. The goal of the night was to experience a slice of history, a cultural phenomenon that became an iconic representation of hippie culture in the last half of the 20th century. Furthur – the world’s only touring Grateful Dead reunion band – was visiting the University of Massachusetts, and the faithful were in full attendance.

The crowd was mixed. Dreadlocked students were joined by members of the clean-cut, middle-aged crowd who carried their children in tow. And as always, the hardcore first generation “Dead Heads” arrived in droves. They came from very different backgrounds, some traveling hundreds of miles to attend, but everyone in the audience was there for one purpose: to groove.

When the band marched out on stage, they made no introduction and held no pretense of flashy showmanship. Strings plucked, drums slammed and the show began.

Furthur was formed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Bob Weir and Phil Lesh in the style of the Grateful Dead. While the two were founding members of the Dead, the rest of the musicians have been recruited from similar-style jam bands and side projects of the founders. This makes it part reunion, part tribute band to the legendary original, and the spirit and feel are very much intact.

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian spoke to one dedicated Dead Head, who specified that his last name not be used. A central Connecticut native, Kevin was, like the rest of the crowd, relaxed and ready to feel the music.   

“I love it,” said Kevin, when asked how he felt about the event. “I drove six hours to Virginia last week for them, so this is nothing.”

Having attended several Dead-style shows in the past, including a live show “in ’95 … that was two months before Jerry [Garcia] died,” and “three Furthur, five RatDog [Bob Weir’s side band], and two The Other Ones,” Kevin was an ideal form to remark on the Grateful Dead’s long-standing appeal.

 “It’s the music. It makes you feel good inside … plus the drugs,” he said.

The drugs were a part of the concert experience that cannot be overlooked. For over 40 years, The Grateful Dead – with their long-form jam sessions and trippy cover art – have been a rallying point for psychedelic drug use. The glow of lighter-meeting-joint peppered the crowd like flashbulbs at the Super Bowl, and a thin cloud of smoke hovered over the proceedings.

While the stage setup was not complex and the band members never spoke to rally the crowd, they nonetheless put on the show that the audience wanted to see. The overhead lights strafed the crowd, shifting through the spectrum to dramatic effect. Spotlights cut through the hazy air like light sabers, illuminating the swaying, dancing, tripping masses on the floor.

The music itself was, in classic form, little more than a jam session. Furthur transitioned seamlessly from classic hits to bluesy free-form. As their sets faded almost into silence, with perhaps nothing but a bass riff to pierce the din, they always built back up to a full-fledged album track.

In some of their sets, the band’s country influence came through strongly. “Don’t Murder Me,” in particular, packed a serious punch of twang. Throughout most of the concert, however, the Grateful Dead’s unique style of early rock ‘n’ roll dominated the soundscape.

After a sing-along finale of “Not Fade Away,” the crowd was ecstatic. The band retreated backstage and bassist Phil Lesh spoke to the audience for the first time during the show. He thanked Amherst, plugged his favorite cause (organ donation) and invited Furthur back out on stage. They finished with the soulful hit “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and, as the lights went out, faded away into the night.

Andrew Sheridan can be reached at asher1@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “Furthur than the average reunion band”
  1. Bud says:

    “Don’t Murder Me” is a tune named “Dire Wolf.”

    Good day!

  2. Matthew Lowe says:

    The you call “Don’t murder me” is actually titled “Dire Wolf.” Easy mistake tho. Nice review! Excellent shot.

  3. Matthew Lowe says:

    *song you call

  4. gpoconnor says:

    I enjoyed the article — saw the Dead at UMass in 1979 as a student.

    BTW, the song you refer to as “Don’t Murder Me” is probably “Dire Wolf” from the Workingman’s Dead album.

  5. Hunter says:

    Um, not familiar with the song Don’t Murder Me. I think you were referring to Dire Wolf.

Leave A Comment