Dead & Company Continues The Long, Strange Trip and Keeps On Truckin’: 2021 Year End, The Great Return

Jay Blakesberg
– American Beauties
Dead & Company perform at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Sept. 17, 2021. The band grossed $50.2 million in 2021, ranking No. 5 on Pollstar’s Year End Worldwide Tours chart.

Since forming in fall 2015, Dead & Company has been a touring juggernaut, grossing $293.8 million prior to the pandemic’s arrival. Naturally, the jam legends and notorious road dogs, comprised of Grateful Dead founding members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, along with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti, were eager to get back in front of audiences.

The sextet did just that, staging its fifth consecutive summer tour of sheds and stadiums – the offline year of 2020 excepted, of course – en route to a gross of $50.2 million, the fifth-highest worldwide in 2021.

From 2016 to 2019, Dead & Company launched summer tours every year and fall runs in odd years only. This odd year, partly due to a summer season that had its opening weeks truncated due to the pandemic, saw a new format, with the band effectively merging summer and fall stints into one 31-date tour that spanned late summer and early fall, beginning at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, N.C., Aug. 16, and concluding with three nights at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, Oct. 29-31.

At nearly every stop, Dead & Company exceeded $1 million grossed, with only gigs at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien Center, N.Y., and DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Mich., falling short of the mark –and even then, only slightly.

Meanwhile, the band notched some of the highest grosses of its career. Across two nights at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Sept. 17-18, the band grossed $7.4 million, besting the $7.1 mark it posted at the Windy City ballpark over two June 2019 nights and becoming its highest-grossing box office report ever, excluding iterations of Playing In the Sand, its Mexican destination event.

The band’s tour-closing run at the Hollywood Bowl netted $5 million, making it the band’s top-grossing event west of the Rockies yet. Other highlights included its debut appearance at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, which grossed $3.1 million, and a two-night run at Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass., where the band had previously played just a single show in 2018, that grossed $2.9 million. The band’s biggest single-night attendance came during its Aug. 20 show at New York’s Citi Field, where the sold-ticket count reached 36,382.

Notably, Dead & Company’s members kept busy outside of the band’s 2021 tour. Weir played two sold-out nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., with his Wolf Bros ensemble, June 8-9, grossing $945,275, before playing two nights at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colo. (June 11-12, $406,327 grossed), and a July 24 show at Berkeley California’s Greek Theatre that grossed $374,270. After a successful May livestream, Billy & The Kids, a supergroup centered around Kreutzmann and featuring Billy Strings and members of Trey Anastasio Band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and The Disco Biscuits, played a sold-out two-night run at Red Rocks that grossed $1.1 million.

The group won’t slow down in 2022: Dead & Company’s January edition of Playing In The Sand sold out upon its April onsale, prompting the band to add a second weekend of the event, and Mayer has a solo arena tour of his own booked for February through April.