36 years ago this weekend, on June 27, 1985, the Grateful Dead performed at Saratoga Performing Arts Center to a record setting audience of 40,231 'Deadheads' on their 20th Anniversary tour. This show was widely considered the bands best performance of that tour and one of the finest, and wildest, in a decade.

Some have described the scene in Saratoga that Thursday evening as reminiscent of Woodstock with traffic backed up for miles and miles. Some of the 40K in attendance rushed from the lawn into the pavilion and up to the balcony. One Deadhead even caught the attention of the band as he was dangling over the balcony. Reports say the band announced:

Yo! You Butch! Stop hanging off the balcony!! We got 50,000 people waiting for you to get back in your seat man! - Bob Weir, Grateful Dead

At 40,000 plus, SPAC was approximately 17,000 people over capacity and this created a number of safety issues. Because of this the Grateful Dead were not booked to play SPAC again until 1988, which ended up being the last time the band would play the venue.

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According to Dead.net, this is the Grateful Dead setlist for June 27, 1985 at SPAC. Performed by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Brent Mydland, Bill Kreytzmann and Mickey Hart:

  • Midnight Hour (Rare performance)
  • Bertha
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Stagger Lee
  • El Paso
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Supplication
  • High Time
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Don't Ease Me In
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Eyes of the World
  • Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad
  • Man Smart/Woman Smarter
  • drums
  • Truckin'
  • Spoonful
  • Black Peter
  • Turn on Your Love Light
  • Johnny B. Goode
  • Baby Blue

Dead & Company are scheduled to perform at SPAC on August 27th to a SOLD OUT crowd of 25,103. Keep listening to Q1057, for your chance to win tickets.

SPAC in the 80's

This is a look back at SPAC, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in the 1980's

SPAC in the 1970's

Check out some of the bands that performed at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the 70's.