Boxoffice Insider: Peter Shapiro’s Celebration Of The Grateful Dead

Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Jeff Chimenti and Bruce Hornsby perform during “Fare Thee Well, A Tribute To The Grateful Dead” on July 5, 2015, in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

In his many ventures associated with the live entertainment industry, entrepreneur Peter Shapiro has a longstanding history of honoring The Grateful Dead and the band’s iconic standing in popular music history. The surviving members of the original jam band and their various musical incarnations and those who pay tribute to the group have often crossed paths with the concert promoter and venue owner.

Most notably was the historic live event “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead” that ranked 14th in Pollstar’s Top 200 North American Tours in 2015 based on just five performances. Shapiro and AEG’s Madison House Presents co-produced the brief tour that featured members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, along with Trey Anastasio, Jeff Chimenti and Bruce Hornsby together on stage at two U.S. stadiums. Together, the five concerts grossed more than $52 million from 361,933 sold tickets.

The first venue was Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area, with ticket sales totaling 151,650. The gross total reached $21.5 million from shows on back-to-back nights starting June 27, 2015.

The following weekend, July 3-5, Chicago’s Soldier Field welcomed the tour for three shows almost 20 years to the day after The Grateful Dead played the venue for the last time on July 9, 1995. That performance ultimately marked their final show ever with the death just over one month later of Jerry Garcia.

In Chicago, “Fare Thee Well” grossed more than $30.6 million from 210,283 tickets, setting venue attendance records twice. The first night’s 70,764 ticket count smashed U2’s 2009 attendance record for a single concert, but the second show topped the first one with 70,844 sold.

Along with concert promotion, Shapiro has also made his mark in the live entertainment world as a venue owner. He took over the historic 1920s-era Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., in 2011 and, after a year of extensive restoration, re-opened the venue the following year.

In 2013, he booked the band Furthur, founded by Lesh and Weir, for a nine-show run that still ranks as the best-attended and top-grossing event on record at the theater under Shapiro’s helm. With shows from April 15-25, the band – also featuring Chimenti, John Kadlecik and Joe Russo – moved a total of 17,084 tickets for a gross of $1.65 million.

Known as The Cap, the venue has also hosted Lesh for multiple headlining performances – 26 of them between 2016-19, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports. Ticket counts from those concerts show 48,775 sold seats for a $5.4 million gross. The highest take was $662,646 from 5,850 tickets at three shows, March 15-17, 2017.
Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra has 17 shows at the theater recorded in the archives between May 2013 through November 2019. With 22,684 tickets sold, the Chicago-based band has grossed $856,418 at the theater. And Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, also a Grateful Dead tribute band, reports 15 shows at The Cap for a ticket total of 28,818 and box office gross of $1.27 million. The group’s most recent reported show occurred just days before the pandemic shutdown, a three-night stand, Feb. 21-23, 2020, with 5,850 tickets sold for a gross of $325,760.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead also reported 28 shows between 2015 and 2019 at another Shapiro venue: Brooklyn Bowl in New York. From 11 gigs, the group’s ticket count was 25,178 for a gross of $1.24 million. Dark Star Orchestra had eight shows at the Brooklyn club reported through 2016 for a ticket total of 5,699.

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