THE GRATEFUL DEAD
There’s one more thing you must do before it all falls apart: spend the night with the Grateful Dead of San Francisco. It is an experience that compares with birth trauma or sky diving. You just have to be there at three in the morning when you find yourself totally overwhelmed by all the sound, your body resonating with Lesh’s every bass note, your eyes burning, closed… Then in the midst of it all, you somehow feel that something – you can’t be sure – but something would feel just right at that moment and yes…from within all that sound, Garcia comes through with a few notes from somewhere and you know that there’s somebody way up that’s paying attention.
When the Dead played SUSB three years ago, the lights came on at 3:10 a.m. Nobody applauded or yelled for more, because there just wasn’t anymore left. Folks were just too exhausted – some from dancing, and the rest from just listening. And the Dead had played the last drop of sound that was left in their instruments. Suddenly you realized that there were basketball hoops and incompletes and Stony Brook…and you’re out in the street again.
Come hear Uncle John’s Band, playing to the tide.
(by Hank Teich, from the Stony Brook Statesman, October 30 1970)
Another article, “Conflict Nearly Kills Friday ‘Dead’ Concert Before Polity and Univ. Officials Agree” notes:
“A Friday night edition of the Grateful Dead concert, originally set for Saturday only, was added about three weeks ago by the SAB in an attempt to accommodate the great numbers of people trying to get tickets.” The gym was already scheduled for an International Students Affair that evening, but the conflict was resolved after some negotiations.
DEAD CONCERT ATTRACTS MANY; CAMPUS SECURITY KEPT BUSY
The Grateful Dead concerts attracted thousands of people to Stony Brook this weekend. During the three-day period gate-crashers forced their way into the gym, several concert-goers were treated for bad trips, campus police helped to save two people from carbon monoxide poisoning, and 12 persons were arrested for possession of narcotics.
At a Student Activities Board (SAB) meeting last night, the students in charge of planning concerts discussed the problems surrounding the gate-crashing that preceded Saturday’s late concert. “The Grateful Dead were very uncooperative,” said one SAB member, explaining that the group insisted on continuing their first show until midnight, the time set for the start of the late concert. As a result, the second concert could not begin on time, and impatient ticket-holders waiting for the second show were joined by gate-crashers in the pushing and shoving that developed. In the chaos that followed, some members of the crowd allegedly threatened hired security guards (not connected with campus police) with broken bottles, and according to student reports the guards hit some members of the crowd with clubs. Attempts to check tickets were abandoned.
As a result of the problems of the Dead concert, the present process of ticket sales was once again criticized, discussed and defended. Alternative methods of checking tickets before concerts are being considered.
Despite the pushing and shoving that occurred late Saturday night, campus infirmary officials say that there were no reported injuries over the weekend, though several individuals were treated for bad trips.
“About 15 or 20 students were treated for bad trips” during the concert, said Elizabeth Palmieri, Director of Nursing Studies and program coordinator of a service set up by the health service to treat students for “ill-effects” from drugs. “It was fantastic,” she said, describing the support and cooperation which students, faculty and staff members showed in working with the health services throughout the weekend.
Volunteer workers were apparently very successful in “talking the kids out of bummers,” said a member of the health service. “We tried to limit the sensory input,” explains Mrs. Palmieri, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry and mental heatlh. “At the infirmary,” she says, “we used sparsely furnished, darkened rooms, and allowed only one or two volunteers to speak to the person we were treating.”
According to a police report, early Saturday morning Joseph Modica, a guard at the gym, found two youths locked in a car with its motor running. He immediately called Security, saying that the two young men “appear to be dead.” When Patrolman Charles Cali and Sgt. Plog arrives, it was apparent that the two youths had been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes and revived them with oxygen. With the help of associate professor Edgar Anderson of the Health Center, who reportedly massaged one of the victim’s chest after his heart had momentarily stopped beating, they saved the lives of the two and took them to St. Charles Hospital. The two youths are reportedly in good condition.
Campus security officers were also involved in the arrests of twelve persons for possession of narcotics. Saturday night Patrolman Charles Cali was talking to a young man who was apparently “on a trip,” and he asked the youth “Are you holding?” In response, the young man produced eight joints of marijuana and gave them to the uniformed officer. Eleven of the arrested youth’s travelling companions were arrested the next morning as campus security stopped and searched their mattress-lined U-haul van to find marijuana, pills, needles, and $800 in cash.
(by Tom Murnane, from the Statesman, November 3 1970)
Another article, “Security Arrests 12 for Narcotics,” goes into more detail about the drug arrests.of the “twelve out-of-state non-students apparently visiting the campus for the Grateful Dead concert Saturday night.” The campus police are praised for their vigilance.
An editorial, “Rearrange SAB Priorities,” complains about the crowded conditions at the Dead shows. Excerpts:
“Going to a Stony Brook SAB concert used to be more of a good time than it has been lately. As recently as last year, it was still possible for a good concert in the gym, crowded as it was, to be an opportunity for Stony Brook students to get together and feel together, enjoying an evening of good music.
The good music is still there, but two disturbing trends that are emerging have changed the concert atmosphere for the worse. The first trend involves the evolution of many a Woodstock “Child of God” into an increasingly popular phenomenon, the “rip-off revolutionary,” who is determined to gain access to a rock show by any means necessary without paying, without pausing to consider the physical damage and high tension potential violence atmosphere he may leave in his wake. [ ... ]
[The second trend:] Since late last spring, SAB has created the impression that it is concerned to a great extent with turning Stony Brook into the rock capital of Long Island. Observers might readily conclude that SAB has been too willing to bring to the campus huge crowds of people that it cannot control and is less concerned with the old ideas of providing entertainment for the student body. [ ... ]
It makes no sense to continue the “open arms toward everybody on the Island” attitude that began with the outdoor Jefferson Airplane concert last May. We can’t do it yet because, simply, there is no room to put everyone and security arrangements, although improved, aren’t yet down pat. As long as people across the state believe “there’s room for everyone at Stony Brook,” repetitions of the Saturday Grateful Dead confusion will continue.
There is no way to justify insatiable drives to pack the rafters to the hilt for each concert. If SAB eliminated Village Voice-Newsday advertising and concentrated more on giving most tickets to students, there would be no reason to hire incredible policing forces and no danger of risking catastrophe at each show. What would have happened this weekend if someone had phoned a bomb threat and security had tried to end the concert and clear the gym? What would have happened if a fire started during Saturday’s late show when all aisles were hopelessly blocked after SAB, faced with a crowd bent on immediate entry and about to destroy itself, was forced to declare a free and open concert?”
From another editorial, “Polity and the Gym”:
“Close to four weeks ago, the Student Activities Board asked Mr. Leslie Thompson, the Athletic Director, for use of the gym on Friday, October 30 for two more Grateful Dead shows. The reason for the request was that several thousand ticket requests over and above a sell-out of two regular shows, were phoned into the ticket office. Remembering the damage incurred at the Ten Years After concert this summer, when there were more people than seats, the SAB wisely decided to accommodate these requests (and obviously open up another two shows for students also) by asking for Friday night’s use of the gym."
(Thompson initially denied the request, but after a dispute between the Athletic Dept. & the Student Council, the gym was made available for the Dead show.)
From “An Open Letter to the Student Body” by the SAB Chairman:
“The late show of Saturday night’s Grateful Dead concert was the latest demonstration of the student body’s indifference and apathy toward the facilities of this campus as well as to the feelings of each other. This was the concert you slept in the gym to get tickets for, but how many of you were able to sit in those seats that you fought to get? The other three concerts were orderly and calm, and people were able to find their seats. Those that needed first aid attention were able to get it because the aisles were clear. These three concerts were sold out mainly to guests of students and the general public.
This is not to say that all of the chaos, the fence trampling, pushing shoving, bottle throwing etc. was done by us. We are all aware of the many hangers on who were looking for any way into the gym. But we on line out there did nothing to prevent them and as they pushed and shoved we were right there behind them pushing and shoving away. Much of the delay and ensuing havoc could have been avoided if the students cared just a little about what was going on on their campus. The Student Activities Board and student security can do just so much without your cooperation. We want to enjoy the campus concerts as much as you do. Without your help there will be absolutely no reason to continue for the rest of the year.”
(Another letter in reply complained that the SAB didn’t handle the crowd very well: “How can you expect a skinny, roll-up fence to hold back a massive herd of people?”)
An article in the 11/6/70 issue pointed out that $22,000 was expected from the mostly sold-out Dead shows, but only $15,000 had been counted. The matter was cleared up in an 11/10/70 article, “'Dead' Receipts Not Lost.” This article summarizes:
“The aftermath of the four-concert series saw far less trouble than the concerts themselves. The Grateful Dead were originally contracted to play two shows Saturday night only, on October 31, but a heavy ticket demand led SAB to schedule two additional performances for Friday night. Three out of the four concerts were virtual sellouts.
At the Saturday midnight performance, thousands amassed in an impatient mob outside the Gym entrance ramps. At times campus police allegedly had to club the crowd back. The threat of riot by hundreds of angry non-ticket holders forced SAB to open the Saturday midnight concert to all.
Student leaders the following day accused SAB of mismanagement and gross irresponsibility, specifically citing inadequate planning and crowd control. SAB countered by pointing to the Dead’s refusal to end the early show at an hour which would have allowed the late show to begin on time.”
(In other news, articles in all these issues state that constant bomb threats are continuing to disrupt the campus, with dozens of buildings cleared & classes canceled each week as a result of the bomb threats. Despite grumblings, no one knows what to do about it, and it's become a routine part of university life.)