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Dead of the Day: May 29, 1971

Winterland Arena
San Francisco, California
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There are several fine shows on this date, but we gotta go back to the infamous evening at the Fillmore West in 1971 for our Dead of the Day. The show gets going with a Casey Jones, right as the crowd was starting to feel the effects of the acid-laced cider that had been passed around earlier. Unfortunately, the first recording here is nearly unlistenable, though it does provide the first half of the show, which our other source is missing. Before moving on to the fairly crisp soundboard, however, you might want to check out the first ever Promised Land and the Hard to Handle that is so hot that you can still appreciate it through the tape hiss. The second recording here picks up with the straight-up, rock and roll Truckin’, which is nearly busting at its seams. As the song finishes, Billy takes over, heading into an incredible Drums that is dripping with hints of The Other One. Finally, with Phil’s help, The Other One comes out in earnest as the boys power through a seriously epic version with some deep space and soaring jams. The bus drops them right off at a stellar, sauntering Wharf Rat. And, by the time it comes around, Sugar Mags is a massive, rocking relief, getting the seriously tripping audience the opportunity to lose themselves in the music and dancing. After a short but enlightened Deal, the boys finish off the show with a ripping, jammed out NFA> GDTRFB> NFA replete with Phil’s carpet bombing and Jerry's hot leads.

Billed as the “Acid Punch Show,” the Dead shared the stage with the New Riders, R. J. Fox, and James and the Good Bros. And, sure enough, the acid punch did show up. As "Shawn" described on Archive, he was waiting out back for John McIntire when “a VW bus pulled up, and someone got out and took two green plastic garbage cans into the stage door--the guard was obviously waiting for them, and opened the door as soon as he saw the garbage cans being unloaded from the VW van.” Shawn ended up heading into the show where he “heard someone say ‘excuse us, move aside please.’ I turned around and saw one of the green plastic garbage cans on a dolly being pushed by two people. The can was full of liquid. I immediately grabbed the rim of the can and helped push. After getting to stage right front with the can, I was handed a stack of 16 ounce cups, and told to fill them up, pass them out, and to ‘tell everyone it's electric, take a small sip and pass it on.’” He finishes the story by relating how he brought some acid out in an empty beer can. “All one needed was 2-3 ounces of the punch in order to take a voyage. This was discovered by trial and error on subsequent days. Since that date, my two friends and I have celebrated 5-29-71.” And Shawn finished off the whole tale with a plea for a copy of the night because “since [he’s] an old fart, and pretty cyber-challenged…and on dial up,” he could not download the show. Shawn, I hope you are out there celebrating with a sweet copy of the show.

Several other folks related stories of the concert and the LSD, with all of them noting the crazy scene outside afterwards. “Saint Michael” on said that his “starkest memory was coming out of the show and seeing this naked guy on top of a car howling at the moon with San Fran’s finest standing there laughing with each other waiting for him to come down.” With all the police activity and couple dozen hospitalizations, the city tried to shutter Bill Graham's venue, but were unable to directly implicate him in the acid cider incident. It was all just another night in the storied history of the band formerly known as the Warlocks.

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