May 08, 2009
| by Arlen Schweiger
The Grateful Dead have been pretty innovative when it comes to technology—their website’s been robust since the web was in its infancy, they’ve embraced high-quality audio formats such as HDCD and DVD-A, they’ve had releases on DualDisc, they’ve remastered a bunch of video footage to be released on DVD accompanied by remastered 5.1-channel surround, and bassist Phil Lesh has championed digital downloads (even freebies).
So of course their current reunion tour—sans Jerry and under the moniker The Dead (which members used earlier this decade)—the enduring band has gone the way of the app. The Dead has teamed with Mosaic Legends, makers of those cool mosaic prints that use hundreds of photos to create one full image, to produce an iPhone/iPod touch app that’s feature rich, and filled with A/V goodies.
The $19.99 app available at iTunes gives you loads of streaming audio from the tour—which unfortunately is in its final stages—plus video and photo blogs from rehearsals, backstage ongoings and the shows; an interactive photomosaic of more than 500 images; news feeds and updates; setlists updated within seconds of a song’s start during a concert; and an MP3 download of two hours of music from the tour.
That two-hour MP3 download’s probably worth the price of admission for the app alone, and is sure to enliven your earbuds.
While you can enjoy the MP3 download, though, Dead fans can also get their fill of Lesh, other original band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and special tour guests via other downloadable music outlets. On Dead.net you can grab pretty instant official soundboard recordings in 256k MP3 or higher-quality FLAC format (prices vary). If you want unofficial recordings from microphone-toting audience faithful you can try www.archive.org and seek out just about any show from the tour, and even give the songs a listen before or while you’re downloading—formats range from MP3 to FLAC even to some 24-bit versions.
Gotta love how instant digital music + the web + iPhone/iPod has transformed methods of listening to even the most veteran bands out there.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.