For whatever reason, the Dead did not play too many shows on 4/20. But there is a little gem from the Philadelphia Civic Center in 1984 that serves as our Dead of the Day. The first set opens with a Stranger that features a ripping Brent and Jerry led jam. Cold Rain and Snow slips out next, keeping pace with some awesome riffs. Cumberland is hot with a smoking Rooster right on its heels that has some great Bobby action on both guitar and vocals. It is clear by this time – if not in the midst of the Stranger – that the boys are feeling each other and the music perfectly. But the real highlight of the first set is waiting at the end in the form of an otherworldly Let It Grow. Despite the break, the band does not miss a beat, speeding into an epic Scarlet> Fire with sick Jerry solos and all around heady playing. From there, they head right into a monstrous Samson. The post-Space Miracle is good, though it is the Dew that really sparkles in the latter half, as you probably imagined.
The Philadelphia Civic Center was built in the midst of the Depression, in 1931. It was located just south of Franklin Field, where they have the Penn Relays, on the edge of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the years, the Civic Center hosted multiple Republican and Democratic conventions. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II all spoke there. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones played the venue. And, of course, the Grateful Dead had two different stands there, a two-night run in August 1974 and this three-night run in ’84. With the building of the Spectrum, the Civic Center went into a long period of decline and obsolescence before being torn down. In its place, the Perelman Center for Advance Medicine, a part of the University, now stands. The Dead would go on to play a ton of excellent shows at the Spectrum, but the intimacy and history of the Civic Center was sadly lost.