Here's another opinion letter from the same paper that sheds a better light on Monterey.
Friday was like a comfortable shoe, looking like a full house but still leaving room to wiggle your toes. Saturday was more like sardines in a can, but they were all very happy sardines.
Let's talk about that wiggling. Definitely one of the more delightful aspects of being at these concerts was watching this huge crowd of people in Pattee Arena shaking it and bobbing all around together while listening to this masterful band weave its magic.
Lots of folks like to joke about Deadheads and their apparent blind allegiance to the past glories of this group of musicians. But after experiencing the concerts firsthand I can tell you it is justifiably one of the most happy group experiences one can have standing up.
OK, so it takes a certain kind of person to be at ease in such a concentrated mass of humanity, many with appearances outside of what you normally see on Monterey Peninsula streets.
But come on, when a band has the longevity that Furthur does, even without its dearly missed Jerry Garcia, there is a shared conviviality you just don't find many places. The music just plain makes folks that happy.
Since I made both nights, I could venture to say that I enjoyed Friday night for different reasons than on Saturday. I thought the music was more cohesive and I enjoyed the swinging jazz feel to some of the jams, especially the second set starting with the song "Estimated Prophet." I just like that song, and it morphed into "Deal," (Don't you let that deal go down!!), "Playing in the Band," and then the awesome "Dark Star."
The performance of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" was transcendent, an absolutely gorgeous rendition of the song that Garcia often did with his signature band, with amazing vocal harmonies. Ending the night with the encore "Touch of Grey" was very cool as well.
Saturday the group touched on some of the early tunes off the band's debut recording, like "Viola Lee Blues" and "Morning Dew," and of course the classic "Golden Road," and that I really enjoyed, as I was a fan of the band back then and happened to catch their set at the Monterey Pop Festival.
It seemed as though the jam sections in the first set were a bit disjointed, though. It's hard to know whether that was intentional or not, but just as it seemed there was an agreement among the players to go a certain way, another would change it up, and the path veered to a new groove.
Kept happening that way for a bit, and I smiled at the thought of why that, or what's going on there? Kept me guessing for sure. And it was very fitting to have the two nights culminate with the song "One More Saturday Night." Yes it was.
All in all, it was a great time and everyone I've talked to felt the same way. Gotta love Furthur. It was truly a happening for Monterey music fans. Phil Lesh, in his end-of-the night plea for folks to be organ donors (he acknowledges freely he wouldn't be alive today without the liver he received in a transplant as a result of his Hepatitis C infection), on Saturday he said how much the band enjoyed playing for Monterey and maybe they should do it more often. I think that is a great idea! Let's do it again.