This was to be my first Ratdog show since 95 with Vince Welnick. I decided to take my wife and my 13-year-old (her first Dead related experience), leave early, and check out the scene as everyone arrived. Not much of a scene as per usual at the Utah shows. As I wandered the venue gift shop, I stumbled into a head from Idaho who was cool enough to update me on some of the happenings I had missed out on over the past little while. Out in the lot we did manage to find some cool Jerry necklaces and peace related stickers for my daughter that seemed to make her day. We lounged on the front lawn outside of The Great Salt Air for an hour and watched as the line formed. Turns out doors opened about 45 minute late. As we entered, "security" seemed fairly lax.
Ratdog opened about ten minutes early with all the guys seemingly rushing to their instruments to get going. They opened with a short jam > Here comes Sunshine, well played and well recieved. As my excitement grew I looked around and was somewhat disappointed by what seemed to be a small crowd; people did continue to file in late, and by mid show there was a good size crowd in the old barn by the Great Salt Lake. Here Comes Sunshine turned into Walkin Blues--sounded good to my ears. Queen Jane Approximately, Youngblood, Mission in the Rain all followed and seemed well played. I did notice several smiles exchanged between Bobby and Mark. I found myself smiling as all these tunes I had heard 100s (thousands?) of times before took on a new feel and sound with incredible interplay and tightness. Desolation Row followed and had me wondering just how many verses Bob knew to this song. To my ears it sounded like he had em all down as the song clocked in at around 15 minutes. Masterpiece followed and was also well performed. I was beginning to feel very fortunate.
It was about this time I realized my wife and daughter had begun their walkabout. I briefly considered looking for them until Salt Lake City started up. Since I grew up in Utah and am very well versed with Utah's wonderful culture I couldn't enjoy that song any more. I put off the search for the wayward family members for one more song. When the jam sequence started I have to admit I kinda forgot about the wanderers. Mississippi Half-Step > Estimated Prophet > The Other One Jam > Estimated Prophet > Stuff > Ship of Fools > St. Stephen. Never heard a Bobby 1/2 step--sounded good and was well jammed out. In fact the whole jam was top notch. I have to say these guys can jam out into another song as well as anybody. Very impressive. After they got into Estimated, I realized I was uncharacteristically dancing a bit. As I had that thought I turned to see the girls smiling at the freaking old man. Another highlight was the closing St Stephen, a first for me and it was a good one, seemed like everyone else thought so as well. As the show ended I found myself wishing I was heading to Red Rocks.
I didn't stay for SCI as my 13-year-old and cranky back had their fill for the evening. I was very impressed with Ratdog and plan on seeing them as many times as possible in (hopefully) the very near future.
graybeard, Salt Lake City, UT