Oct 19, 2017

April 15, 1969: Music Box, Omaha


We skipped the light fandango 
And turned cartwheels across the floor 
I was feeling kind of seasick 
But the crowd called out for more 
The room was humming harder 
As the ceiling flew away 
    - Procol Harum

Another great night at the Music Box in Omaha thanks to RFO and the Grateful Dead, Liberation Blues Band, and a very receptive audience.
Lincoln's one and own genuine original blues band turned on Tuesday and turned in their best performance to date. The entire group clicked harmoniously without squelching the opportunity for the individuals to do their own thing. The crowd was receptive as they listened to a program which ranged from the well-worn "Spoonful" to the more recently favored "Mule."
Following this primer by the Liberation Blues Band and a brief intermission, the Grateful Dead, all seven performers, complete with at least a half dozen sound and equipment men, plugged in the culturally deprived Nebraskans to three hours of solid sound.
Two sets of drums, three guitars, an organist, a congo drummer, and various and sundry percussion instruments comprise the Grateful Dead. But, there is more to it than this. A reverb man and a bevy of other knob twisters are responsible for the sound which this group puts forth.
Audience participation is an integral part of the Dead's presentation. When they broke into "Turn on Your Love Light" the audience stood, danced, jumped, clapped, and sang along for almost thirty minutes. The extra twenty-seven minutes of this song can never be done the same way twice, and the crowd enthusiasm was unequalled.
An hour-long version of "Anthem" combined with "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" closed the program. The group's newest drummer played an assortment of percussion instruments ranging from tambourine to xylophone. A giant firecracker even exploded on the stage, in perfect rhythm with the rest of the song.
All in all, those of us who care are extremely grateful to the Dead, for their talent, colorful personalities, and a great show.

(by J.L. Schmidt, from the Daily Nebraskan, Lincoln, 17 April 1969)


See also his review of the previous Music Box show:


  1. A short but great review. The Daily Nebraskan was the student paper of the University of Nebraska, and this writer had also covered the February show at the Music Box - he and the rest of the crowd were clearly excited to greet the Dead again.

    RFO was KOWH-FM Radio Free Omaha (an odd slogan), which presented the two shows.
    This confirms that the Liberation Blues Band opened. Being from Lincoln, naturally he gives plenty of attention to the opening band from Lincoln (he'd seen them before, and there's some hometown pride here).

    He brings out how many people were onstage during the Dead's show - back in February he thought there were nine members in the group. Now he knows better, and can tell that some of them are part of the crew ("at least half a dozen sound and equipment men...a reverb man and a bevy of other knob twisters"). I hadn't thought the Dead had so many crew-members onstage at this point, but he even notes the firecracker explosion that had become a standard part of the show.
    The audience was just as joyous at this Lovelight as they'd been two months earlier, and you can tell why it regularly got stretched out to 30 minutes.

    The audience tape cuts off in the Eleven, and it's always been a mystery how the show ended. He says it ended with "an hour-long version of Anthem" - a 20-minute Other One suite had come at the start of the set, followed by a Dark Star suite; it's possible he's being loose, not knowing song names, but he said the show was three hours, whereas the surviving audience tape is only about two hours. So I'm guessing the show possibly closed with an Alligator>Caution, which would make this a massively jam-packed show. (The Dead did plenty of those in '69, when they were comfortable with the venue and had time.) And finishing off with a Baby Blue too!

    The Dead didn't return to Nebraska for four years. The writer refers to "culturally deprived Nebraskans," and you can imagine seeing a show like this and then never getting to see the Dead again... Might make you move to California!

  2. I did move to Haight Street. Left home the next morning. it's been a long strange trip!