Story and Photos by Terry MayerDeadheads were resurrected once again, they never really die you know, for their annual stop at Alpine Valley Music Theater last Friday night. The blues/country twang that Rusted Root generated had gotten a hold of the crowd and wasn't going to let go. On "Send Me On My Way" the band pulled out all of its choppy aggressiveness and fell prey to the infectious response of the audience. Their songs had a kind of Johnny Cash urgency. Passionate, yet detached.
Across the field, the multi-colored masses of bubbles decorated the landscape, girls twirling their hula hoops while swaying back and fourth to the mystical and rambling sounds. Keller Williams a one man montage of musical mastery kept the audience from fading inward with an array of his own very special blend of mixes. The fans were dancing everywhere from the front of the stage to the parking lot where people who couldn't afford tickets were listening to the "Dead" beats with a "fresh as a baby's bottom" enthusiasm.
As the lights slowly sparked to life, the cheers of a thousand dead concerts past welcomed Ratdog with open arms. The group casually emerged to the delight of generations past and present. For many, being a hippie apparently never goes out of style. The band opened with the acoustically founded "The Music Never Stopped," then bit the head off the silence with "Easy Answers" and "Loser." The aging Bob Weir played with a burning fire even though his hand was still in bandages from falling through a glass coffee table earlier on tour. Many artists would have called off the tour or at least a couple of shows. Remember Janet Jackson's chipped tooth that canceled her Bradley Center appearance recently? One complaint many true deadheads might have is of Ratdogs' rather slim set list. Many Grateful Dead veterans have found, through hazy memories of the Deads' three hour long sets that wandered aimlessly until it's direction be told by the straining last chords of the last song. As the scent of marijuana and perspiring bodies filled the air, you could see many sway in perfect unison to the earthy chords that crept off the stage with "I Know You Rider" and "Brokedown Palace."
Ratdog and company showed us that there are still many more roads to travel.
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