By Brian Ives
On Minimation, we comb through the archives of legendary New York radio station WNEW-FM and animate interviews with legendary rock artists. This installment is taken from a 1977 interview with Jerry Garcia where he discusses watching ‘The Grateful Dead Movie,’ released that year. This video was created for Radio.com by Max Werkmesiter.
These days, if an artist wants to see what’s going on in the audience at their concerts, it’s rather easy: there’s bound to be tons of photos and videos posted in real-time on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, YouTube and Facebook. But during the Grateful Dead’s lifetime — from the mid-60s to the mid’90s — the internet wasn’t a thing. Also, everyone wasn’t walking around with a camera in their pocket, and even if they were, where would they post the photos?
But with the release of The Grateful Dead Movie, the members of the Jerry Garcia-led band to really see their audience and also to experience a Dead show from the audience’s perspective (back then, concert DVDs weren’t a thing either: the VCR hadn’t yet been popularized). “This is our first chance to kinda get to know them,” Garcia says (that’s Bob Weir chiming in, “Look at ’em frame by frame.”)
“For us,” Garcia says, “It’s always been: we’re on stage. We don’t really see the show. We don’t know what it’s like to go to a Grateful Dead concert. We’ve never had that experience.”
These days, there are a handful of Grateful Dead DVDs you can buy: of course, seeing and hearing the show is only a fraction of what the experience of a Dead show was. Social media was a few decades away, but the events were definitively social.