June 4, 1970
One man's review:
We are breathless. And then comes St. Stephen. Here the audience tape provides a glimpse into the sonic tidal wave of the Grateful Dead in a fashion not readily available in any other tape this reviewer can bring to memory. After the “lady finger” section of the song proves to be intensely personal - it is so within the head that the head expands to fill all space - the flash pot/gunshot that follows becomes an endgame for the senses. The music becomes enormous, even cataclysmic, as if towering forces are locked in battle. Galaxies collide, exploding in endless eruptions. Above it all, a cymbal swell begins to take form, certainly a mainstay portion of this tune. But this tape brings it into bone bleaching focus. The swell begins to level everything in its path, yet the music muscles its way even higher. Nothing is left of personal space. There is no room left. Here, we are lost to the music. We are gone. And the sound wall continues to roar. This one passage delivers the goods so completely, it starts to make sense why people would religiously follow the band from show to show for decades. You come out on the other side wondering, what just happened? Sensational.
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Try to hear and imagine all the wild notes Phil is playing beneath those crashing cymbals and regal in the intertwining of what becomes three lead guitars emerging from the crescendo. And then there is the drums-driven transition into NFA.