If you go
What: Dead & Company
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: University of Colorado's Folsom Field, 2400
More info: bit.ly/20Hb86L
Hours before Dead & Company took the stage at Folsom Field on Friday evening and struck up their version of "Dancing in the Street" to thousands of screaming fans, another show was underway in the parking lots, sidewalks nooks and crannies surrounding the stadium.
"Cold glass, get it while its hot," came a voice from a clutch of makeshift vendor booths along Colorado Avenue, presumably someone selling Pyrex smoking apparatus. "Hot glass, cold prices."
"Shiny pins for sale," said a dreadlocked man of about 20 years old, walking up and down Colorado Avenue with a rack of Grateful Dead-themed pins with a handwritten note reading, "Will trade pins for ticket."
Yet another man donning a scruffy beard and ball cap with the bill flipped up stood — some might say lurked — beside a more above-the-board vendor's tent and simply repeated the word "doses" to anyone who walked past. He did not say exactly what it was that he was selling.
A group of young hippies argued heatedly with one another in the middle of a crowd because one of them had supposedly been selling counterfeit LSD — an act the others in the group found to be disrespectful "to the family." It was an odd spectacle among the thousands of people nearby who came to get their mellow on — with or without the aid of outside chemicals.
Many in this quirky, unofficial and multi-faceted economy — known among fans of the Grateful Dead as "Shakedown Street" — weren't going in to see the band, but claimed to have been following them as they tour across the country, some of the fans too young to have seen the original Grateful Dead.
Among them was a dreadlocked man who would only give his name as "Grateful Mike," who said he was from Boston originally but is now from "wherever."
Grateful Mike had set up three tables of rocks — some of them polished — and fossils he unloaded from his white Ford Econoline van parked along a narrow, double row of vendors to the south of Folsom Field. He was selling what he called "honey calcite" he claimed to have mined himself near Cornville, Ariz.
"Is that anywhere near Bullhead?" inquired a teenage boy sporting a Grateful Dead bandana wrapped around his head.
"I don't know where Bullhead is," Grateful Mike replied. "It's by Sedona."
Before that conversation transpired, another man approached Grateful Mike and asked if he was selling marijuana — sort of an odd request in Colorado where it can be purchased legally at a shop.
"No, I'm not selling that," Grateful Mike responded, his face breaking into a smile, adding that he had one of the more family-friendly setups after the man left.
He said that he has seen Dead & Company about 30 times, and while he likes the band, he doesn't totally approve of their set list. (He added that he wasn't going to the show on Friday night because it would take too long to load up all of his rocks.)
"They play a lot of crowd-pleasing songs," he said. "They need to play some soul-pleasing songs."
Marlene DeFranco said she came up from Denver with friends to see the show, and she brought a basketful of Jerry Garcia dolls and dancing bears associated with the Grateful Dead that she had sewn.
She said she is too young to have seen the original Grateful Dead — the current incarnation has three of the original members and is fronted by singer John Mayer — but she enjoys the music and is heading to Atlanta to catch another show along with "two friends and a cat so far."
"I just think the music is (expletive) awesome," she said, referring to the last time she saw the band. "I had a good time, and I danced."
Eric Ream was lugging a large backpack and walking around the University of Colorado campus selling pins and "blotter art" made on sheets of paper sometimes used to prepare multiple individual doses of LSD for sale.
Ream said he hitchhiked from Ohio with his dog, Toast ("like a piece of toast"), and wasn't sure how he was getting back. He added he would have liked to have attended the show on Friday, but his camper burned down before he came to Colorado.
"They won't let me bring my dog in," he said.
He added that he saw the original Grateful Dead in 1993 and 1994 and commented how young the crowd gathered around Folsom Field on Friday afternoon looked.
"But I guess I was young in 1993," he joked.
Across from Folsom Field, Matthew Champion — who said he grew up in one of two trailer parks in a tiny community north of Mobile, Ala. — was telling jokes for 25 cents on the steps of a university building.
Champion said that he wasn't going to the show on Friday but was traveling the country and stopping in Boulder. He told a passing group of people that the money he had raised telling jokes — about $12 — was for beer for him and his friends.
He said that he gives people the option of clean or dirty jokes and always tells clean jokes if children are present. While some of his jokes were far too dirty to print, others were merely corny.
Actually, very corny.
"Why do hippies like corduroy?" he asked. "Because it's groovy!"