Get lost in this 346-hour chronological playlist of The Grateful Dead’s live shows
The Grateful Dead are a band so mercurial and mystical that they are as much a mythical musical movement as some guys who get up on stage to play music for an audience. Their live shows were legendary not only for their off-stage antics and mind-altering power but their on-stage ability to transport you to a whole other world.
It’s a feeling of beautiful bewilderment that would see fans literally hitchhike thousands of miles to attend their tours. We say tours because very rarely do real Deadheads stick around for just one gig, chances are they will make their way to several stops along the route. That’s the allure of The Grateful Dead.
If you ever wanted to take a trip back in time to feel The Grateful Dead back in action then you can send your special thanks to Spotify user Steven Doc, who has compiled a mammoth 346-hour chronological playlist of every recorded live performance The Dead ever did. Sit back kids, it’s about to get real trippy.
The playlist details the band’s career onstage from it’s wild and windswept beginnings in 1966 in the bustling counter-culture movement of San Francisco, up until the sad end of the group with the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995. Now, with a band like The Grateful Dead, there are sure to be thousands of fans screaming at the different variations of members which facilitate something officially being recognised as a Dead recording. But this is probably the most trusted assumption of the band’s authentic live timeline—simply put; with Jerry.
In the playlist is a stunning amount of peaks and troughs as more so than any other artist, when you went to a Dead concert you went for the ‘experience, man’. A portion of that experience may well have been what was consumed just before arriving at the venue but where sometimes that pastime may lead to the odd dud, it was the experience on stage that always beguiled and engrossed audiences across the country.
The group were never a set-in-stone formation on stage. They would meander through the noodling setlist adding swathes of new licks to songs or changing chord patterns or just generally moving the song into a brand new direction. Nothing was off-limits. The Grateful Dead challenged their audiences to grasp the concept and go on the ride with them.
Sometimes that could become a bumpy ride. Singer and bandleader Jerry Garcia was usually the conduit for a good or bad performance. If Garcia was on good form, then you could trust the rest of the band would provide all the horsepower the guitarist needed. But if Garcia, with the help of the previously mentioned pre-show snacks, had vacated the wheel, then all bets were off.
With every off night or out-of-tune twang, there were countless moments of crescendoing beauty to outweigh it. Those crashing moments would culminate in a live career that continually experimented and expanded, moving with the band as they matured.
Below you can experience it all, all 346 hours of it.