The Grateful Dead played a lot of live shows over the course of their career, but we don’t need to tell you that. The seemingly never-ending cavalcade of bootlegs should be evidence enough. Deadheads each have their specific favorite show or tour, but one fan took his admiration for the band’s spring 1977 tour just a little too far. The end result: 90 minutes of the Grateful Dead tuning, chatting, and doing everything but playing songs.
The bizarre project is the idea of Michael David Murphy, a Dead fan who specifically targeted their 1977 tour as his focus. “I started thinking, ‘What would it sound like to string together an entire year of the band just tuning up? What does it sound like when they’re not playing anything,'” Murphy said in an interview. Murphy looked through each Dead recording on Archive.org, taking what he could find to craft a jarring sonic experience.
“It’s a conceptual art piece. It’s an audio piece that is really about the idea of what does sound sound like when no music is happening,” Murphy says. “It will frustrate listeners, and other listeners find it really amusing and fun.” Murphy does admit that few people make it far into the 90-minute piece.
You can listen to “Tuning ’77” below, and you can read the full interview with Murphy on Rolling Stone.