If you somehow missed Sunday evening's 7:00 o'clock performance by the Grateful Dead, but stuck around to raise hell about your money, you discovered to the Assembly Committee's relief that there would be a concert sometime the night of October 12.
The Dead late on arrival were minus one corpse, something about a lost bass player. The crowd stood passively, only occasionally crushing someone against the doors of the auditorium. Soon, thanks to the unrestrained efforts of the valorous N.Y. cabbie, a bass player did arrive in time for the nine o'clock show and was immediately given an option for the second appearance later in the evening. Bodies cleared, doors opened, nine hundred and eighty-seven people simultaneously passed through one set of double doors. (Approximately seven feet wide.)
Once inside, you had close to twenty seconds in which to obtain a seat, of course there were also the aisles. At that point, if you dig emphatic audio expression, you probably haven't thought about the ridiculously massive sound system staring down on you from the stage. Could all that have been delivered to the wrong Shea? Five or six figures wander out from the stage and take places in front of the wall of speakers. There are definitely six now, two drummers, why two drummers, "I still don't understand it."
The Dead play "rock blues," more often than not, wrapped country style. It's immediately captivating, and if you are really there to get into the sound, you can start with the first note: otherwise the second will do. Their greatest influence is The Band, "and fellows, it shows." But, do not disappear, there is a different individuality to their work. The lead guitar work more than made up for what was lacking in bass; but after all, he stepped out of the cab, and out onto the stage without even tuning up.
It was fascinating to see the audience become part of the show with the same speed at which they took their seats. It was also fortunate, for unfortunate was the brevity of both performances.
There is something to be said for the way in which the evening was run, for some people were not at all understanding in their point of view. There seemed to be a definite shortage of ushers; "compliments to those who showed." Also, hearts and flowers to the Assembly Committee for not hassling the two hundred or so people who attended each show unannounced.
Picture caption: "The Grateful Dead performed two concerts here during Homecoming weekend.
They attracted one of the largest crowds ever to seek admission to a PSC activity."
(by Bill Lavorgna, from the Paterson State Beacon, 20 October 1970)