On any given night in 1977, the Grateful Dead were liable to play a show that would become famous.
Oct. 29 in DeKalb, Ill., was a given night and the concert that evening at Evans Field House became so famous it was released as Dave’s Picks Volume 33.
Housed in a trifold, cardboard case that features a facsimile of the bill for Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux’s wrecked room at the local Holiday Inn, this three-CD set smokes from the opening “Might as Well” through the “One More Saturday Night” encore. The only drawback is the massive amount of empty space on Disc 2, which runs just 24 minutes and begs for filler.
Remastered and sounding just exactly perfect, the music soars on Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart’s rambunctious drumming. Phil Lesh is in fine, lead-bass form; Jerry Garcia plays with peak, presumably cocaine-fueled, inspiration and he, Bob Weir and Donna Godchaux are in good shape vocally as well; Weir and Godchaux’s duet on “Looks Like Rain” is sublime. Keith Godchaux’s infamous malaise hampers his performance but there are flashes of his latent brilliance on such tracks as on “Friend of the Devil.”
The 10-song first set is pure gold, particularly Garcia’s scribbling guitar on Weir-sung tracks like “El Paso” and “Let it Grow.”
Set No. 2 sparkles only slightly less brightly. But the Lesh-led “Space” segment and the presence of high-octane renditions of “Estimated Prophet”->”Eyes of the World” and “St. Stephen”->”Not Fade Away” make up for any brief lulls.