February 26, 1977
first "Estimated" - first "Terrapin"
New Minglewood Blues
They Love Each Other
Playin' in the Band
Playin' in the Band
Samson and Delilah
Music Never Stopped
Help on the Way
Eyes of the World
Dancin' in the Streets
Around and Around
Attendees of this show
This, my 12th G.D. concert, was an exciting event for me. San Bernardino is my hometown. I lived there longer than any other place; off and on, for a total of 25 years, attending both high school and college there. This is the only Dead show I ever went to that took place locally; that is, in the same city I happened to be living in at the time.
The Swing was an ugly old barn of a building, with rows of metal folding chairs, and in the rear, wooden bleachers like you might see at a high school football game. The place was hot in the summertime, and cold in winter. But over the years, I went to dozens of rock shows there; Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Steppenwolf, Santana, to name just a small fraction of them. But even though my favorite band, the Grateful Dead, had played there once already, several years earlier, I hadn't been there. I was not about to miss this one.
I wore my "Steal Your Face" t-shirt, and lent my oldest and best friend, Jay Lindberg, my "Ice Cream Cone Kid" t-shirt. Old and thin, it did not survive the concert. I refer to the shirt, of course, not my friend.
An airplane crashed into the Swing auditorium in the 1980s', and then what was left of it was torn down.
4th show, I remember all the Hells Angles, especially the drunk one dressed like a pirate teasing the audiance from the stage after the show. I was pressed against the 4 foot chain and some surfer dude tried to jump on the stage during US Blues while security kicked his butt back to the audience. Jerry just looked at him and sang"...better change your act!" Mustang Row
I was 18, out of high school and the Dead was close to town. We got there early... Singing and strurming in line ...passing the alternitive agriculture...meeting people from Mass,Ny and wereever...Deadheads before MTV. Got inside and grabbed great seats.l Dead comes out and plays ....what the fuck is this?...Terripan Station...It would grow on me through the years. Mickey was back with a vengence... Help on the way was absoulutly fucking mindbending! Release the tapes to this historic event!!! see God, Fil B
My good pal Steven (RIP), who'd had a Springfield/CSNY cover band in earlier years which had inspired me to play bass, had an ailing heart and had blacked out a few times in recent months. He wasn't a Deadhead (a ZappaHead actually) but I'd bought him the Make Believe Ballroom bootleg, he was suitably impressed, and he agreed to join me at this show. I was very rarely late for a show, but we were delayed leaving LA, having grabbed his oxygen bottle among other things.
Upon arrival we encountered a very slow moving line. Once inside, ourselves and at least a hundred or so others found the first set in full swing. It was only a couple weeks later that I picked up a couple hitchhiking DeadHeads who asked me what I'd thought of the new monster song "Terrapin" and I could only answer "Huh?" (I didn't hear it until the Forum show.)
Nonetheless, what we did hear was truly powerful and beautiful. I believe this was also the show where they played in front of a large screen featuring a horizontal fist that faded at the wrist into a flame or something, that slowly changed colors with the lighting throughout the evening. Anybody else remember this??
I was 21, attending college, and going to a large number of the concerts that were playing at the good ol' Swing Auditorium. The venue accommodated just over 6,000 people, and it was set up in a horseshoe shape, about twice as wide as it was deep, with a large open floor area and a permanent raised stage that was recessed into the back wall. For the Dead shows, no chairs were set up on the floor; instead it was standing room, and that made the place look much less full than it would have appeared if chairs had been set up (there was no difference in the maximum number of tickets available for fixed-seating or standing room setups). All tickets were General Admission, meaning that you could either race for the front of the standing crowd or race to get as good of a view as possible from the center area of the lower level or balcony permanent seats. I headed for the floor, and got to see the show from about 30' away from the front of the stage.
As anybody knows, it was almost impossible to hear Grateful Dead tunes on the radio back then, unless you lived in the Bay area (and I'm not sure how much airplay they got even up there). Back then I didn't own any Dead albums; my college friends had very few Dead LPs, and almost never played them--it was much "cooler" to play Zeppelin, Stones, Floyd, and the more esoteric groups (ELP, Yes, etc.). As a result, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I did know that the Dead were supposed to be a good live band, and the ticket was cheap enough (remember when concerts and ball games were affordable?). So, just for the hell of it, I bought a ticket and took my chances.
There was no way to compare the band to anything I'd seen live before. They wandered onstage instead of setting off explosions and going for a bombastic staged opening. They tuned up for a couple of minutes, the way a small combo at a cheesy bar might do, and then they went from that hesitant-sounding tuneup into the first bars of Terrapin Station (which I had heard for the first time only the day before, after I bought the album).
I played guitar back then, so I was mesmerized by Jerry's fluidity and by Bob's strong work. More than anything else, though, I saw a bunch of musicians who were enjoying themselves even more than the audience. It was like spending time in a very large living room with a bunch of friends, listening to some of your buddies crank out some tunes, rather than attending a concert.
I saw them two more times at the Swing, in '78 and '80, and a few times after that at other venues. Although I probably saw 40 concerts or more at the Swing Auditorium before it had to be demolished (a small private plane crashed into the roof of the building on September 11 (of all days--what a bizarre coincidence), 1981, it was my three Dead shows there that I look back on with the fondest memories, and those shows are the biggest reason why I miss that odd little building.
I'm trying to remember whether it was the '77 or the '78 show that had the large backdrop of an eagle... memories fade. At least the music is still with us, thanks to the generosity of the band in allowing tapers to record and share most of their shows (and the recording of this show is my most-played concert).
I grew up in Fontana, just down the road. I was 15 back then and went to most concerts at the Swing. When the Grateful Dead played this show me and a buddy got tickets mostly for the party.......Or maybe only for the party. We knew who the Grateful Dead were but that was about that. I remember the visual of it more than the music. We were blown away by the audience and of course the party. We jumped right in and ended up having a blast. I have had a chance to hear the show since..........Fantastic!!!
Never be belly up at the stage for a premier...the sound leaped over our heads in a curve (musta been the shining lite)
keep your character, enjoy living, share your fortune,
OXOX Merple Reddin
I have occasionally fantasized about having a time machine so I could travel back to see this show live. I heard it on a tape while visiting a friend, and I begged the owner to let me take the tapes so I could copy and return them. What a show.
My first Dead show was in 1989, so those shows from the 70s were always just cassettes to me.
You took me there, and for that I am truly ... Grateful.
Yes Snark, that's right, a small airplane crashed into this place and that was the end of The Swing as a concert venue.
But even though it had that old-timey/funky fairground vibe to it, the place was an AWESOME venue for music! The crowds was always working-class kids that wanted to listen AND dance and if you were on the floor in front or in the first 4 rows of bleacher seats straight to the back behind the floor the sound was quite good!
After discovering The Swing in San Bernardino for the first time I would diss off going to L.A. from Ventura and make the 2 hour + drive to San Berdoo for live music! I'm not kidding! You could ALWAYS score a ticket the day of a show.