These guys are getting better. Weir told me some time ago that they all have reached a comfort level which is allowing them entry into the "fun-zone." Last night's show at the Grand Ballroom, the old Avalon Ballroom, in SF was a clear indication that Bobby's assessment is an accurate one. I was also happy to see the local crowd fired up as well. For some reason, when Bobby plays his own backyard the hometown barely shows up. (I refer to the encore-less Marin Veterans' show a year or so ago where the lamest audience in my experience did not call for an encore following a spectacular show.) Last night was like a Dead show backstage and out front. Really nice to be back.
stewball, Nicasio, CA
My first Ratdog show, but 200 or so GD shows behind me (and several years in Dead cover bands myself). Bobby looks like my sis's ex, but in glasses and shorts, white shirt and Birks. Silly...
The mix was horrible in the first set, with no dynamics at all, and horribly bass heavy in the second. Couldn't hear Bobby play in either set, period, and I tried everywhere in the house. Horn based "stuff" was so loud I had to leave the room.... Unlistenable, really. Bobby repetedly forgot the lyrics, and when one fan loudly yelled out a missing lyric, the horn guys started laughing so hard I thought they would have to leave the stage! Classic!
And - people were wasted! I hung out in the lobby during the "stuff", and saw one guy being restrained and carried out on an acid flip out, two or three others being talked down by friends, one screaming LSD! LSD! LSD!... Several folks (OK,OK, not "folks" - it was 100% dudes) puking right in the lobby! (And in the men's room, and out the men's room window onto the people on the side walk, and on the stairs, and in the hall, and...) The vibe was BAD there for a while as many in the room were coming on way too hard. These were mostly twenty-somethings and obviously somewhat new to the L experience when combind with cocktails. It's amazing how much you think you can drink when on L, huh? I considered leaving, starting to feel anxious myself. Note to the guy who was handing out the L for free to all takers: cut those things in half next time, you're dealing with amateurs here! I was offered L, E, fungus, and dope dope dope. It's like Kesey used to say, "don't be a Nancy...just say no... thank you! It's good to be polite!." And memo to the Rock-Med folks: Awsome job. I can't believe you can still be putting up with us for all these years. Thank you!
The format of the show was just like a Dead show of the later period: slow starting, a few gems, finally getting up to speed in the second set. Quite like the first night of a run of shows. I'll admit, I couldn't help but get into it during the He's Gone/Other One part and actually found my self yelling "ashes to ashes," without thinking, during Throwing Stones. All in all, it was like a second rate Dead show with Jerry out of it, like in '83 or so when Jerry was sooooo wasted all the time and barely present anyway....
The whole thing was over and done by 11:10, except for those who said yes at 9pm to the doses.... I'm sure they are still at it!
Bill k, Petaluma, CA
Outstanding performance!!! I was recently reunited with Ratdog on archive.org (12/28/01). I was very impressed with the band's ability to perform so well together.... Jeff on the boards rocked, Karan was effortlessly tight, and Bobby as usual ripped in the city across the bridge.... Highly recommend seeing them whenever they are in the Bay area (which unfortunately is not enough).... Suprisingly, I thought they were a much better band than Phil and Friends (I'm biased because I'm a Bobby freak).... Anyone want to go to Reno tonight ? :)
Chris S., Mill Valley, CA
Sick show in snazzy new uptown venue. To start the show they jammed into Shakedown Street, a nice tight version, then they played Minglewood. During Minglewood they tried to blow the roof of the joint. It was so loud I thought the turn-of-the-century teardrop chandeliers were going to fall on me. They they worked their way thru She Belongs to Me > Youngblood > Crazy Fingers. Then they played one of my favorite Ratdog tunes, She Says, which has a jazzy(?) tinge to it. Then they played into Eyes of the world which always sounds best with a sax player, and Kenny Brooks didn't not disappoint. Then set break.
Then the second set rolled around, and what a start to it. Bobby and Mark had their acoustic guitars out and we got little modern day Reckoning. They started with Me & My Uncle > Peggy-O > Masters of War. That was the end of the acoustic set. Electric guitars came back out also a special treat; Dave Ellis joined them on saxophone like his early days with band. During one of the more spirited jams of the evening (I forget which one), Dave lifted the band and the jam off this planet. When Bobby settled the song back into its groove, he walked over to Dave and gave him a mock punch to the face and he was right--Dave had just delivered and knockout punch of saxophone playing. I was floored! Dave & Kenny worked well together all night. Then they played He's Gone > The Other One. Then they played this thing they call STUFF with only Jeff/Jay/Kenny/Dave playing. It's kind of like a jazzy jammy equivalent to Space/Drums. I liked it. Then they finished the 2nd set with Sugaree > Throwing Stones. Just an incredible set, start to finish. Then the two-song encore started with Revolution (Lennon inspired I'm sure) then Touch of Grey.
If you love great saxophone playing and small venues, you wanted to be at this show. What a show! As always I came away impressed with Jeff Chimenti playing; he whips those keys into a frenzy at times. RATDOG has arrived folks in case you haven't seen them in a couple years. I thought they were going to take a turn for the worse when Rob Wasserman left the band, but the opposite has happened they are clearly better and tighter then ever. Thanks guys for the early Christmas gift.
Dan Blair, Northborough, MA
By the end of this magical evening I had lost my voice due to my enthusiasm of this wonderful group. They were tremendous. Bobby is magical, and it was wonderous to see him in the lovely Grand Theatre. The band was awesome, and most impressive to me was Robin Sylvester's bass playing. A powerhouse who is mesmerizing, enticing, and plain outright awesome. As usual a wonderous group of fans who were a joy to be with. Their cover of Masters of War knocked me into a whole different dimension. Anywho... totally fantastic and joyous was this evening. Keep on keeping on Bobby Weir and company!!!! Ahhhhhh....
Jimoth, San Francisco, CA
It's always special to see Bobby lead Ratdog in San Francisco, but this show was one of a kind, epic, and over the top. The band sustained infectous energy from start to finish and were backed by a fully loaded pyschedelic lightshow featuring Alice romping through Wonderland, melting steal your faces, and frolicking bears. The Shakedown opener set the funky holiday mood, rolling into a crispy Minglewood that exploded off the stage. An astonishing Crazy Fingers was the highlight of my first set, along with hypnotizing She Belongs to Me and the always emotional She Says. The set ended with an Eyes, a Robin S bass solo, and then the Stronger Than Dirt ballroom blitz that was appropriately dark and wayward in true Ratdog accordance.
Set two picked it right up with a routy Me and My Uncle. Is Bobby a cowboy or what? Then my girlfriend's highlight, a thrilling and dark Masters of War that proved why Bobby is the ultimate showman driving the hard lyrics into the spellbound audience. A sweet Peggy-O completed the acoustic Dylan duo before He's Gone rolled us down the track and onto the ballroom carousel for The Other One. Bobby decided to treat the crowd, making it a rocker with the help of Mark, Jay and the rest of the boys. A perfect Sugaree featured former Ratdog alum Dave Ellis on a killer sax solo that had Bobby and the crowd reeling. The setlists called for St Stephen > Eleven but Bobby changed his mind, opting for the Throwing Stones. It was a wise choice becuse it blew the house apart. And if that didn't sastify the most discriminating head, then the double dosed encore of Revolution and Touch surely did.
A timeless night of Ratdog rock in San Francisco which we will always cherish. Thanks guys.
Tim Grossman, Truckee, CA