Bob Weir and RatDog at DTE Energy Music Theatre Review - The Book of the Dead, Bob Weir Style

Bob Weir and his band RatDog hit the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan amongst August sunny skies, eighty-two degree weather, and almost nobody there. Weir stated right off, “With the amount of people here, maybe I should run for president”. He then began playing music as if RatDog were a garage band just starting to feel each other’s groove. Perhaps they were waiting for more people to come and make it happen. Perhaps people couldn’t get there in time after their work. Perhaps it was too light out which affected the mood of this outdoor amphitheatre. However, the magic of Bob Weir and the legendary Grateful Dead under the lead of the now transitioned into the spirit music world Jerry Garcia, played on till they hit the right gear to zoom into overdrive.

Weir captures the audience with lyric and song

No doubt, whenever old Grateful Dead songs got played the whole place came alive. This seemed to be both a blessing and a bit of trouble, as well as commentary on much of today’s music. Was this resuscitating the dead, or enlivening the fun party spirit?

RatDog jamming, lifting the spirit

By the middle of the two-hour set, the music theatre started to fill up and the band was finding all the right pockets and grooves for their music. RatDog’s unique psychedelic rendition of the Beatles’ Revolver album song “Tomorrow Never Knows” magically lifted hearts and hands, and dancing hips.

Bob playing some rhythmic leads

Weir’s RatDog band seemed to rumble and ramble, meander and dangle a bit here and there, but that is the authenticity and genuineness of this jam band. They are playing real music and when they hit on the groove, the whole song suddenly comes alive bringing a rash of smiles across every face. Then the whole place seemed to rise. Each time the band hit on this magic moment of timing, everybody rose in affirmation to cheer and dance each other and the band on. Clearly Weir has a cult-like following of the faithful and dedicated.

Bob Weir feeling strong

It was a strange musical magic and end of day sunshine moment. Here, the beer seemed to have replaced the 60’s acid head nostalgia; the new insight or experience. Strange times we now live in. Outside of a few new bands and a few old dogs, music at times becomes a drug of choice, a reminiscence of the past, a hope for the future, or a vehicle to sell something else with. RatDog made me wonder what music is and what it has become.

Handout on all the chairs

For the most part, this concert seemed a mix of just wanting to party, touch, and dance. Perhaps it was a last heart-string swan-song of summer or reminiscing gratefulness to the dead yet still living who continue to see the cup half full and not empty. I remember Weir telling me after a concert, a few months before Garcia passed, that the members of the band had just discovered the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the Tibetan Lama Gelek Rimpoche, who I know. By now we should all know the importance of compassion, loving kindness, and emptiness practice. Weir continues to create nostalgia with a little bit of room to move. Maybe that is what emptiness is about. Weir weirdly allows opportunity to once again fill the glass if you’re ready. It’s amazing how music which was once a creative hit, now moves more in the background creating an invisible wallpaper for elevators, shopping malls, and concert venues.

RatDog is a mellow jam and simple good time

The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir and RatDog are strangely similar to reggae music in that both genre of music seem to engender the hips to sway and the head to roll the rock away. Maybe that’s the secret and dismay, no thinking necessary for the experience. Where are the 60’s when we need them?

One of numerous hot sax riffs

Although Weir and the band appear to be following no fashion code, Bob presently sports a big round beard and mustache, along with a bit more weight then I remember from the old days. This makes Weir appear to be either the reincarnation or the brother of Jerry Garcia in looks and guitar. Perhaps he is a barber from mythic Switzerland ready to give you a shave, sauna, and musical massage.

Rock solid drumming with RatDog

I loved the songs “Baby Blue”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Dark Hollow”, “Black-Throated Wind”, “Lost Sailor”, “Saint of Circumstance”, “Black Peter”, “TMNS”, and their beautiful version of “Ripple”. These songs seem timeless in their ability to entrance a good happy time. With his large beard, shorts and sandals, the Libra-sun-sign Bob Weir looks more like he is out on a boat than jamming out songs at DTE Music Theatre. Although the Grateful Dead are no longer with us, the dead are grateful as well as alive with Weir strongly at the captain’s wheel.

Lead and bass tag along

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