The Grateful Dead has a love affair with Folsom Field. As the band says goodbye (again — yes, they’ve said goodbye before), it returns to a beloved place near and dear to its heart.
As it prepares to take the stage to close out its farewell tour in 2023, there is history in the making. The band preps for its 11th appearance at the University of Colorado, Boulder stadium, I am reminded of a special time in 2019, when my family saw them play in that same location, and it harkens back sweet, one-of-a-kind memories.
I’ve wanted to write this story for a long time, but at the time, my mother-in-law wanted to sue us for grandparent rights in the lives of our children, and, for obvious reasons, the timing just wasn’t right.
But, at the end of the Grateful Dead Era, it seems fitting to harken back to a time when we saw Dead and Company in person in the same place.
It was Friday night, and in anticipation of the crowd, we showed up early to meet and greet folk in a parking lot near the stadium.
As one may expect at a Dead concert, there was plenty of haze in the air. It’s a strange occurrence to find a fan of the dead not high on spirit, life, or weed, but we were not participants of the latter. We were, and remain, fans of the music.
Our eldest daughter, who was naturally inquisitive and noticed the distinct aroma in the air. “What’s that smell?” she asked with a puzzled expression. As parents, we understood what could happen, and took steps to move toward the stadium.
Before long, the girls began giggling uncontrollably, and we realize what may have happened. They could have experienced a contact high.
Classic tunes filled the air, and the kids became engrossed in the music, dancing alongside us with wide smiles. The girls were captivated by the crowd’s unity, and couldn’t help but join in on the fun, despite their initial shyness.
The specific effects of a contact high can vary depending on factors such as the concentration of the drug in the air, the duration of exposure, and the individual’s sensitivity to the substance. However, some common experiences associated with a contact high from marijuana may include:
- Relaxation: The person might feel a sense of relaxation or mild euphoria, similar to the effects of being in a relaxed and enjoyable environment.
- Light-headedness: They might experience a slight feeling of being light-headed or floaty.
- Heightened senses: Some individuals may report enhanced sensory perception, such as colors appearing more vibrant or music sounding more immersive.
- Increased appetite: They could feel slightly hungry (“the munchies”) due to the appetite-stimulating effects of marijuana.
- Altered perception of time: Time might seem to pass more slowly or feel elongated.
- A feeling of being “out of it”: The person might feel disconnected from their surroundings or experience a mildly altered state of consciousness.
It’s important to reiterate that the effects of a contact high are generally subtle and short-lived. Once the individual is no longer exposed to the drug’s fumes, the effects should diminish relatively quickly.
You guessed it, before long came a request for food, so we made our way to the food trucks for munchies. The experience continued to be unforgettable in many other ways.
The band took to playing around 7 pm, and began by playing a rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. We’d been watching the dark clouds gather overhead, and they were not fading away but were growing with fury.
Even though the sky began spitting rain, the energy of the crown remained high. The band transitioned into “Cold Rain & Snow,” eliciting cheers from the audience as the weather continued to pick up. After finishing the number, Bob Weir took the mic and announced that they’d need to handle the weather situation, and the group departed the stage.
Tarps were haphazardly thrown over guitars, amps, drumsets, and other equipment. The hope was that the band would return to the stage within moments, or at least quickly, but Mother Nature had other plans in mind.
The rain shifted to half-dollar-size hail near us, and fans were evacuated from the bleachers for safety reasons. Fans, eager to see the band they adored, huddled together everywhere they could, under trees and stadium awnings, taking any cover that could be found.
Our little group of four was divided. My husband remained in the stands until fan evacuation became mandatory. The girls and I huddled inside between a pizza joint and a Dippin Dots ice cream cart. You guessed it; this mom bought ice cream to calm the kiddos.
We took comfort in the conversation of two police officers who were on duty at the stadium that day. They entertained the girls with stories and answered all of the questions any kid ever wanted to ask a police officer.
And, there we waited for over an hour before an all-clear sounded and fans were slowly allowed to trickle back to their seats. The Grateful Dead following is die-hard. And, most fans eagerly returned back to their seats as lightning continued to flash in the distance.
The band returned to the stage at about 8:40 pm, or so, and an abbreviated version of the scheduled playlist began. The jam sessions the band is known for were minimized, and the show went on.
After the meandering “Me & My Uncle,” Bob Weir led the band through an easygoing “Ramble on Rose,” and said that they would play straight through set break to make up for time. Then the Dead came alive with the “Mississippi Half-Step,” and energized by the crowd’s enthusiastic response, Weir dropped yet another rain reference during the lyric, “A retread to my feet and prayed for better weather.”
I won’t lay out the full agenda, but for any fan, you can tell that the experience was unforgettable.
Music is a storytelling, soulful enlightenment for many. How does it suit you?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Spencer Davis on Unsplash