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In Amir Bar-Lev’s comprehensive and freewheeling history of the Grateful Dead, the legendary band and their unprecedented influence are center stage, illuminated under an appropriately audacious and lively spotlight. Expertly interweaving archival footage, rarely seen performances, and accounts from band members, family, and fans, Long Strange Trip traces the highs (as it were) and lows of the group, from their bluegrass Beat origins to the peak of their powers as deep space explorers. Conjuring style from substance (and substances), the band—and its innovative and enigmatic leader, Jerry Garcia, in particular—inspired a raucous countercultural reverence. Ultimately, however, its wild success proved tragically unsustainable. Cautionary and candid interviews reveal that personal lives were sacrificed to preserve the fervent, and suddenly profitable, adulation; the musical magi reluctantly transformed into an entertainment machine. As music history and Bar-Lev’s moving treatment show, the Grateful Dead did not just leave their mark: they left a groove. (Full Frame)