If the thunder don’t get you, then the lightning will.
Deadheads, of course, have known that line ever since Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter penned it for fan favorite “The Wheel” decades ago. But Saturday brought a more literal interpretation for Dead & Company fans, thanks to a cancellation partway through the band’s second set on the second day of a two-day run at BB&T Pavilion due to inclement weather.
Fans got about a set-and-a-half out of the band, which features original Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann alongside guitarist John Mayer, bassist Oteil Burbridge, and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, before weather cancelled the show. By the time “The Other One” came up about three songs into the second set — just after 10 p.m. — torrential downpours, lightning and thunder took over.
Frontman Weir initially told fans that the weather was forcing a delay, and advised that those on the lawn seek shelter inside until the storm passed. The delay, however, turned into an all-out cancellation as bad weather continued. Dead & Co. did not return to the stage to confirm the cancellation, and many fans waited in the weather for the show to continue before heading out into a flooded Camden. Some even took part in a makeshift mudslide up in the lawn.
“Due to dangerous weather, we were forced to end the @deadandcompany show,” BB&T Pavilion wrote Saturday at about 10:40 p.m. on Twitter. “Please seek shelter for your safety.”
Dead and Co., meanwhile, apologized for the cancellation on Instagram, writing “we wish Mother Nature didn’t interrupt the jams but hope everyone got home safe.”
Representatives from BB&T and organizer LiveNation did not respond to requests for comment about the cancellation. It is unclear whether the venue will offer refunds for attendees who were rained out. Tickets declared that the event would be held rain or shine.
Many Deadheads were upset at the cancellation, and took their frustration out in the form of memes, including some that suggest Weir controls the weather — an old joke among fans.
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Others focused on what could have been. A setlist that began circulating after the show’s cancellation showed that Dead & Co. planned to play tracks including classics like “Terrapin Station,” “Casey Jones,” and “One More Saturday Night.”
And others still were simply left wet and disappointed:
The storm rolled in causing a rain delay. At first, most of the lawn people stuck it out with the hope that the storm would relent and the music would resume. As time passed, though, and as the torrents continued, even those that were too smashed to know they were wet began their exodus. Zaiden and I, however, made an unspoken pact to ride out the storm – drenched though we were, on the muddy ground hunkered under our hole-filled painter’s tarp. There we stayed – questioning our sanity – for what seemed like an hour until, at the end, they called the show and sent everyone home. We were not rewarded for our perseverance. The concert didn’t resume. However, in our perseverance, we created a lasting memory that no easy road would have impressed. Sometimes in life you do stupid, ill-advised things because they make for richer lives. That was the lesson for the day. For both me and the Boy. #DeadAndCompany
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That time we went to the @deadandcompany show, and they stopped it halfway through due to severe weather, so we walked a mile through the streets of Camden, in torrential downpours, thunder, lightning & floods to get to our car. #insanity #soaked @johnmayer @bobweir #deadandcompany
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The real shame, however, is that the fun had to end. From the lot to first set and beyond, the evening was all about having a good time, just as Dead shows always have been. In that sense, nothing has changed, so it was sad to see the weather call all that off so unceremoniously — especially after what many considered to be a fantastic (and complete) show on Friday.
Still, though, fans did get a good chunk of a full show on Saturday. Dead & Co.’s first set of the night started strong with “Hell in a Bucket” before moving onto the Mayer-heavy rendition of “It Hurts Me Too” by Tampa Red — a blues standard that got its live debut from Dead & Co. on Saturday.
The bluegrass-twinged “Cumberland Blues” emerged next, followed by an emotional “Ship of Fools,” which Dead & Co. followed up with a stellar version of “Ramble on Rose.” A cover of The Band’s “The Weight” was an odd choice, but matched Mayer’s voice well, and featured sung verses from each member of the band. In a moment of foreshadowing, Dead & Co. closed their first set with “The Music Never Stopped” before segueing into “Easy Answers.”
After a break, the band returned to the stage with an energetic “Playing in the Band.” The star of the night, however, was “Uncle John’s Band,” which had Mayer sounding about as close to Jerry Garcia on guitar as he ever will. After a tease of “The Other One,” it was all over.
Dead & Co. fans, however, weren’t the only fans washed out in Saturday’s rain. Across the bridge in Philly, Roots devotees got dumped on for a Festival Pier show that was ultimately canceled shortly after the storm began. As organizer Questlove wrote on Twitter of that event, lightning within four miles of the area caused the Roots Picnic’s cancelation.
So, in the end, the lightning got us all. But even with only a partial show, it’s hard to be sadder that it’s over than happier that it happened. Next time, hopefully, Weir will be able to hold the rain off a little longer.