Did the Grateful Dead Conjure Up a Rainbow?

Some suspect moving sight at farewell gig was man-made
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2015 3:33 AM CDT
Did the Grateful Dead Conjure Up a Rainbow?
From left, Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir perform at the Grateful Dead "Fare Thee Well" show at Levi's Stadium Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif.   (Photo by Jay Blakesberg/Invision for the Grateful Dead/AP Images)

Even without Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead's power to put on an amazing show isn't in doubt—but the group's ability to conjure up rainbows is being hotly debated. As the band played "Viola Lee Blues" on Saturday to end the first of two sets, a spectacular rainbow appeared over the Santa Clara, Calif., stadium in what the Los Angeles Times' reviewer says "seemed like a blessing from Garcia himself." But was it too good to be true? Some people insisted it was real—and accompanied by light rain—though Billboard quoted an "insider" who claimed that the band had paid $50,000 for the effect.

The plot thickened when Grateful Dead lighting director Paul Hoffman replied to a fan's comment on social media, saying the rainbow had been created with "600 varilites on a building 2 miles away," reports Consequence of Sound, though he may have been kidding: He later posted, "Guys. The rainbow was real." Real rainbow or not, the gig—the first of five farewell concerts featuring the surviving "core four" members, along with Phish's Trey Anastasio—stuck to the classics and did a great job of "regenerating the kind of cosmic energy" the original band produced for decades, writes the San Jose Mercury News' reviewer. (A planetary scientist says some odd orbits around Pluto are like something you'd see at a Grateful Dead concert.)

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