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Richie's Trek to Troc
The Trocadero, San Francisco, May 8, 1997

by Rich Hand a.k.a.XFMR man
posted to Rust on May 17, 1997

Manic Depression. That's what it is. One minute you're down in the dumps thinkin' No Neil this time around, and then you get catapulted to this bizare scene where body piercing and moshing comingle with the peace and love generation.

Fontainebleu and some others had posted that Year of the Horse would be shown up in San Francisco at the Castro Theatre on Thursday, May 8th. I wasn't gonna go. I had sent my congratulatory message to Fontainebleau and figured that I would save my bucks for a possible stealth run. When I heard that there would be a party afterward, it piqued my interest. The rumor was that an unknown band would be providing musical entertainment.

Neil as a musical guest? Why not? That was a good enough excuse. I told my wife what luck Runaround Babe & Fontainebleu had. She said, "When are you going?" I said, "I'm not going." Well, she knew me better than myself.

It started gnawing at me, and I talked to her about it. "Would you mind? Would you want to go?" She just doesn't have enough leave time from work, so she gave her approval. The plans began.

I called right away and obtained tickets. I checked with my friends to see if it was O.K. to come up. I saw my friend, L.A. Dave and told him about it and asked if he could get a couple of days off. I was able to obtain tickets for him also. Everything was coming together.

We were sure Neil would be at the premier. We knew that he may or may not show at the party afterwards. Then my on-line service started f#@ing up as I tried to contact my friends in the Bay area to make arrangements. Panic began to set in. I was on a downhill slide...

I tried e-mailing through my other service. Sure enough, my friends had been trying to reach me. We planned to stay through the weekend, giving us time for some Rustfesting or jam sessions.

I was getting excited about goin' to Neil country again, when the Catalyst rumors creep in. Neil's people had checked to see if the Catalyst was available. Oh, no. Neil has declined the R&RHOF, and now, he's dissin' Jarmusch, we think. He'll be doing stealth gigs while the movie is playin'. (Since that time we pretty much now know that rumor was false, since Jarmusch showed up at the stealth gig.)

By the time we left Ontario airport for San Jose, we were in the ditch of depression again. Neil's not going to the premier and he'll be a couple of hours south of there, playing while the premier is shown. Dave & I talked it over, and we decided that if Neil is in Santa Cruz, we would munch the tickets and head for the Catalyst, if at all possible. Of course, this would be subject to agreement from our friends...

When we arrived in San Jose, Run Around Babe greeted us and said, "Neil's not playing the Catalyst." She had already called there, and found that Neil had decided against it. Well, that wasn't much hope, but it was better than finding out that he wouldn't be at the premier. "Neil will be there.", she said.

We dropped off baggage at the Fonainebleau & Run Around Babe ranch, and headed for the train station. The train took about an hour to get to San Francisco, so we had time to chat. For those of you who have met Devon & Ciaran, they are the most charming people you'll ever meet. We had a lively discussion with Devon, who had on an outfit that reminds you of the heyday of the San Francisco scene, when Peace & Love reigned. We're talking about how we believe Neil is unhappy with the film, so there's been a rift between Neil & Jim. Will Neil show? No One Seems To Know.

We got to San Francisco and met up with Ciaran, AKA Fontainebleu. It was good to see our friend again. Before we could say anything about how we feel about stealth concert plans, Ciaran said, "Rumor is that Neil's gonna play the Trocadero. I drove by 4th & Bryant on the way here, and there are people lined up outside." Devon suggested we go by and check it out. All agreed.

In what seemed like just a few minutes, we arrived at the Trocadero and found out that "Hippie Dream" was the band that's to play. They told us that Neil was to play, and that they were selling vouchers to be used for purchasing tickets at 6:00 P.M. It had been set up so that you had to go inside once you purchased your ticket, so there was no chance of buying a ticket in a way that let you see the movie before coming back to see Neil.

We agreed that we wanted to see Neil, and could see the movie another day. We understand the decision of some who knew about the show but still chose see the movie. I do not blame them. It was a premier, and no one was sure what was gonna happen at the Trocadero.

We made a mad dash for the Castro Theatre to pick up another friend who had planned on sitting with us. We made phone calls to friends who were going to the movie, and gave them the option of coming down for the show. With vouchers in hand, Ciaran and I returned from the Castro with a friend who had been at the RnRHOF show and had pictures of the event.

We entered the Trocadero at about 7:00 P.M. Instantly any slight doubts about Neil playing were erased when we saw Neil's equipment on stage. There was the orange stomp box. Old Black was ready. Neil's Deluxe with the Whizzer was ready. 3 stage mics were set up. Neil, Pancho, Billy. Yeah!

But why was a steel guitar set up? Ben Keith? A B-3 was set up behind the steel guitar. Hmmm. This was gonna be different...

The Jolly Roger was flyin' above Ralph's drum kit. There were candles, which almost gave an OPL feel. Stairs led down both sides of the stage from the balcony. The interior of the Troc was mostly black. What a way to make an entrance.

We situated ourselves about 3 rows back from the stage, very close to where Neil would play, slightly toward Pancho's typical area. They always take the same spots on the stage.

We found many friends whom we'd met at OPL gigs, and Rusties who had managed to get tickets. The atmosphere was electric! So many great friends gathered to see the master. Deja Vu all over again! Been there, done that, and couldn't wait to do it again! We were so busy chatting with friends and feeling good that I was a little startled at how soon Neil and the boys came out.

The boys didn't waste much time. They went right into it! What was this song? A new one! Alright! Nooo, it's I Got A Problem. No, that's not the name of it. Soon, we heard someone say, "Hard Luck Stories." Yeah, that's it. Holy Toledo! A LOW song.

The sound was great from the git go! Here's the setlist with my coments:


  1. Hard Luck Stories . . (first real surprise)
  2. I'm The Ocean . . (a feel good song despite some of the lyrics)
  3. Razor Love . . (played twice, this one was very good)
  4. Crime In The City . . (I love the pulsating rhythm in this one)
  5. Truth Be Known . . (Another Mirror Ball song)
  6. Piece Of Crap . . (Not as zany as the Bridge one, but fun)
  7. Don't Be Denied . . (Pancho seemed lost on this one)
  8. Throw Your Hatred Down . . (Crazy Horse gives PJ a rejoinder on this one)
  9. Downtown . . (A little off on the second riff)
  10. Hippie Dream . . (3rd real surprise song, 2nd being Rz Lv)
This set was so good, that some figured it was over. It did seem like he played for quite some time. We weren't sure he was coming back until someone at the stage mentioned that Neil would return. It was time for a nature call and another beer and chat with old & new friends. I noticed a fellow there had an Echos shirt on. I inquired about it, and he said that the same guy who made the OPL shirt had made this one. It was Irish green.

I bought beers for my friends and got back to my spot for the second set. Words like "awesome" just seem to fall short in terms of how Neil and the band, Hippie Dream, sounded. The sound was superb all night. Better than OPL in my opinion. The venue was not as intimate, but the sound and performances were better. I really hate to judge between such wonderful performances. I give OPL 9.5 horses out of 10, and this one 9 horses. I would rate the tour shows I saw last year 8 to 8.5 horses. Trocadero was a wild gift horse! So was "Hippie Dream".

The second set started as a reminder of last year and finished with some real beauties. We Sacred Roots guys can be proud of the Neiler playin' our theme song again. It was funny to see the assistants trying to bring out lyrics to Neil on RL. He mixed it up the words a bit, but that just made this version a little more special. Prisoners of Rock & Roll was the perfect ending. You could almost tell that this had to be the final song. Maybe Geffen has purchased the RnRHOF.


  1. Hey Hey My My . . (As powerful as ever)
  2. Slip Away . . (a BT fav)
  3. Big Time . . (The OPL theme song)
  4. The Losing End . . (from the archives)
  5. Sedan Delivery . . (*SR* theme)
  6. Throw Your Hatred Down . . (RnRHOF theme)
  7. Razor Love . . (Neil theme)
  8. Cowgirl In The Sand . . (Flo's song)
  9. Prisoners Of Rock And Roll . . (Where are you Dave S.?)
When we realized that the boys weren't coming down, we headed outside. There was JJ! I got a chance to shake his hand and chat for a bit. Neil had just pulled away. I shook Ralph's hand also, and chatted with Larry Johnson for a bit. Devon & Ciaran got to chat with the boys for a while, and L.A. Dave and I found Jeff Tweedy and discussed his gig coming up the next night at the Filmore. He is quite friendly and fun to be around.

Just like that, it was over. It all happened so fast. My overall image was that of a bunch of pumped up Rusties and Neil fans really getting into a feel good mood watching the master weave his magic. Neil was in the best of spirits and looked and sounded great. He's more than ready for the upcoming tour.

If he uses this same set list on the tour, then you're in for a great time! I would imagine the tour will have more of the standards and a bit less of the rare birds, but you never know with Neil.

Well, this has gone on long enough. I hope you didn't mind the rambling. I'm a very lucky guy to live so far away from SF, but to be in position to see this show. I hope to hear about more pilgrimages in the near future. Maybe there will be a few warm up shows before the tour.

I'm still livin' the dream we had....for me it's not over....


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