Drive-in Dead

In which I go to a “Dead” concert at a Cape Cod drive in

The last time I saw the Grateful Dead play was sometime in the early 90, shortly before Jerry Garcia’s death. Since then I’ve never been bothered to go to any of the post-Dead bands’ concerts by the likes of Dead & Co, Further, Phil Lesh and Friends, Bobby and the Midnights … I never was a fan of tribute bands and getting me to pull out my wallet to pay current ticket prices only happens if the band is sort of still together and I’m buying the tickets as a present for my wife who is far more of a true fan of the music than I am.

Early last week I caught the news that the Dark Star Orchestra would be playing two shows on Friday and Saturday nights at the old Yarmouth Drive-In on Route 28 here on Cape Cod. $150 bought me the right to show up in a vehicle with up to four people, so I bought the tickets and told my wife and son we were going. Was it a responsible thing to do with Covid cases on the rise here in Massachusetts? Would it be fun or a pain in the ass? Would the band be any good?

Who cares. It was the first weekend of the fall, the weather was great, and seriously, it’s not like the social calendar is crowded with other competition for my leisure time.

Got to love a faux lighthouse

The band was great. The facility was well run and we were directed at our “suite” staked out by wooden posts and ropes in the fourth row and slightly to the right. The crowd was in the spirit, tons of tie-dye shirts, battery powered blinking lights, glow sticks and clouds of marijuana everywhere.

We backed in, opened the rear lid of the SUV, and hung out in the back of the car or on the bumper. Two sets and three hours later, I predicted two out of the last three songs — Stella Blue, Sugar Magnolia, and an encore of US Blues. Son and wife looked at me like a wizard when I announced “we are outta here” and loaded up the car for an early exit before the usual traffic jam. We listened to US Blues on the radio (Your Car is the PA!) as we cruised down a deserted Route 28 under a rising moon, past the t-shirt shops and mini-golf courses towards home.

I’d do it again — the drive-in concert experience that is. When the band said these were their first concerts since February I was sad for all those musicians who are grounded by the quarantine. Hats off to the promoter who figured out the drive-in solution, but still it felt sad to consider that the Yarmouth Drive-In claims to be the biggest live music venue in New England this summer.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

4 thoughts on “Drive-in Dead”

  1. We have been to several shows at the Drive-in in Swanzt,NH including DSO last Sunday. It has been a great change of pace from our usual extreme social distancing. Most people at the shows are mindful of others, but a few bend the rules and some are too partied out to realize that they are in other peoples space, but overall it was a great experience. Someday we will get back to normal shoulder to shoulder, but then I will probably miss the relative civility of the drive-in with your private space.

    1. Funny how the “wear-your-mask-outside-of-your-car” rule was ignored. All in all it was nice not to struggle for room packed in like sardines in traditional seating

      1. At Swanzey the rule was masks when out of your car and personal zone. When we saw Twiddle a few weeks ago, I believe the band requested Masks whenever out of your car. Enforcement by “security” was pretty good. Some people set up camp right on our line and were loud and unmasked during Twiddle. I hate having to be the party-pooper that enforces commonsense rules at a concert.

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