Over 40,000 Deadheads descended upon San Francisco this weekend to catch the last-ever shows by Grateful Dead spinoff band Dead & Company. Featuring original Dead member Bob Weir and early member Mickey Hart, alongside pop music icon John Mayer, Dead & Company sold out all three Bay Area shows.
Fans lined up outside Oracle Park for hours to snag official merchandise on Friday, while other Deadheads bartered with cash and trinkets for food, drinks, nitrous oxide and tchotchkes on the iconic Shakedown Street just across the Third Street Bridge from the stadium.
“Shakedown Street” is the name of a 1978 Grateful Dead song, album and a descriptor for the chaotic vending areas where Deadheads and concertgoers mingle and sell anything and everything outside the concert venue. Vendors set up their wares early Friday morning. By Sunday, the alley was jam-packed with visitors looking for tie-dye clothing and handmade wares.
Many Deadheads were also looking for a miracle: With fingers pointed skyward and hand-painted signs, dozens of fans wandered around the ballpark and Shakedown Street in search of last-minute tickets.
The Grateful Dead played its first gig as the Warlocks at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor in Menlo Park in 1965. In its pivotal years, the band lived out of a house in the Haight. It became a symbol of U.S. counterculture, with die-hard fans following the Dead around the country. The Dead & Company is one of the spinoff bands formed after the death of frontman and San Francisco legend Jerry Garcia.
There was a sense of finality at the shows, as Deadheads, young and old, gathered to celebrate the end of the tour.
Whether this will be Dead & Company's final tour remains to be seen. Deadheads are unconvinced they won't see the band, perhaps with a different lineup, touring again soon.