Bribery in College: Grateful Dead Concerts: Alice + Olivia

Tie Dye Smiley Facedievca was bribed by her lab partner in college. Something about going to the Grateful Dead concert in Alpine Valley, WI. In return for doing the P-Chem Lab, dievca would receive a tie dye t-shirt and friendship bracelet. Yep — dievca has to say it was a really great tie dye tee. (she wore it until it shredded…)

The Grateful Dead may be one of the most beloved groups in rock history, and Alpine Valley Music Theatre may have been amongst the Deadheads’ favorite places to see the band jam.

But between nostalgia and, um, substances enjoyed at the shows, those Deadheads may not remember that the shows weren’t always “groovy” experiences.

The group performed 20 times at the East Troy amphitheater, from Aug. 23, 1980, through July 19, 1989, with fans traveling from as far as Massachusetts and Arizona, according to Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel archives.

Once, before the show, 1,000 parking spaces were lost due to heavy rain, prompting a traffic backup that stretched up to six miles. “This was the worst traffic jam I’ve seen here,” Sgt. Todd Wiese of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department told the Milwaukee Journal.

Grateful Dead traffic jam

Grateful Dead traffic jam

They hadn’t seen anything yet. For those two problematic shows, about 28,000 Deadheads descended on Alpine. Two years later — the first of a four-show, five-day run — an estimated 60,000 people arrived, about a third of them without a ticket.

That is the year that dievca’s lab partner went to the show. People arrived early to party all day, forcing thousands of fans who actually had tickets to park alongside roads, in front of houses, and trek up to four miles on foot to the show.

The challenges continued after the concert ended. Sheriff’s deputies were on site until 3 a.m. directing traffic until they gave up. Fans slept in the lots overnight —  and neighbors complained of people sleeping in farm fields and woods on private property. Some Deadheads even slept in nearby ditches.

Apparently the demeanor of the concert goers was generally “pretty mellow“. A few angry fans threw bottles at police officers, but only about 25 arrests were made.

As a goodwill gesture, the Grateful Dead donated $1,500 the following month to the Lake Geneva Rotary Club, and $500 to help pay for police overtime.

The band came back the next year, with a new rule in place only allowing ticket holders into the lots, and Alpine Valley was able to avoid the previous year’s chaos. But rain still caused problems, with drivers getting stuck in the mud attempting to leave, causing delays as long as two hours.

The following April, Joseph Entertainment Inc., the Milwaukee firm that owned Alpine, announced it would ban the Dead from the venue in 1990, trying to reduce tensions with Walworth County officials.

The band would never play Alpine Valley again.

In 1995, the Dead came to an abrupt end with the untimely death of the band’s leader, Jerry Garcia. Splinter Dead projects, including The Other Ones, with Kreutzmann, Weir and Phil Lesh, and Hart’s band Planet Drum, did make appearances at Alpine in later years.

Why did dievca go off on this Memory Lane tangent?

Behold the Alice + Olivia , Grateful Dead Collaboration…really.

The flashback is killing dievca.


Thank you to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Don’t know who the Grateful Dead are?
Rolling Stone offering from Alpine Valley, WI 1989
Touch of Grey – their biggest hit.

4 Comments on “Bribery in College: Grateful Dead Concerts: Alice + Olivia”

  1. Ret MP says:

    Do you know my friend, Karen? I think, truly, you may. wow. Cheers, d.

    • dievca says:

      Ready for this? I was never a Deadhead. Surrounded heavily….but I’m not really a fan. Preferred David Bowie/Classic Rock in HS, New Order/New Wave-College Alternative as an Undergrad~ I just had fun watching the “granolas” get messy. XO

      PS. Who doesn’t like a great (free) Tie Dye? Had to do the Lab anyways…

  2. Pelelotus says:

    Would never have guessed that you would have enjoyed the grateful dead. X

    • dievca says:

      I just like a couple of songs — not something that I seek. But, I was completely entertained by watching friends and mates follow the crowd. The 1980’s version of hippies.


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