Grateful Dead's legendary 1989 JFK Stadium performance is coming to the big screen

Deadheads who got rained out at Saturday’s Dead & Company show in Camden are in for a treat this August, and inclement weather stands little chance of calling the second set early this time.

As part of the eighth annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies on Aug. 1, select theaters across the country will screen the Dead’s famous July 1989 performance at Philly’s JFK Stadium — the final show at the venue before it was torn down in 1992. Locally, the fan site GratefulWeb will present a film of the concert at the Regal Riverview Plaza 17, as well as at several theaters in New Jersey and the Philadelphia suburbs. Tickets are currently available, and run about $13 before fees.

The performance, which runs about three hours, was originally released on DVD and CD under the title Crimson White & Indigo in 2010.

Held July 7, 1989, the Dead’s performance today is the stuff of legend in part because, at the time, it wasn’t clear if the band would be able to play at the stadium, as WXPN reports. JFK Stadium had fallen into a state of disrepair and was condemned days after the show as unsafe due to structural issues and fire hazards, according to an Inquirer report from that year. In September 1992, the city razed the venue, and it was eventually replaced with the Wells Fargo Center.

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Despite the conditions at JFK Stadium back in 1989, more than 55,000 people attended the Dead’s performance, the Inquirer reported after the show, though fans were unaware it would be the venue’s last hurrah. According to a set list from the show, however, the Dead closed the show with Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” so the band may have had an inkling of the stadium’s impending doom.

Fans remember the day as a particularly hot and chaotic one, according to comments on an Archive.org upload of the performance. Some attendees recall tipped-over Porta-Potties, “heads dosing each other with spray bottles” of LSD, and “flabbergasted” Philly cops. According to an Inquirer review of the show, at least 15 people were arrested for drinking or drug violations, while several others were treated at hospitals for “ailments ranging from drug overdoses to heat exhaustion.”

Despite those problems, the Dead’s set went on to become an iconic one among Philly-area Deadheads. The show kicked off with “Hell in a Bucket,” just like the Dead & Co. show this past Saturday at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, and included renditions of beloved tracks like “Ramble on Rose,” “Box of Rain,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and “Wharf Rat.”

“Seeing all these different kinds of people coming together, I thought this is great,” one attendee told the Inquirer of the show back in 1989.

Now, however, fans will be able to relive the experience on the big screen. More information about the screening is available on the official GratefulWeb page or on fathomevents.com.

In the meantime, catch up on the performance via Archive.org’s fan-recorded version of the show, or melt into the YouTube videos of the Dead’s JFK Stadium show: