Oct 19, 2017

July 11, 1969: New York State Pavilion, Flushing Meadow Park, Queens


NEW YORK - The Pavilion, an outdoor rock ballroom that is really a remnant of the 1964 World's Fair, opened July 11 with a large crowd cheering through several hours of heavy rock played by Tribe, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, and the Grateful Dead.
The former New York State Pavilion is a unique place to listen to music, with the multi-million-dollar unisphere in plain view and a huge map of New York State painted on the floor of the "ballroom" creating a surrealistic atmosphere. Despite acoustics which made hearing a problem in some parts, the Pavilion offers a relaxed atmosphere which facilitates moving around, dancing, or hanging out, making it a kind of East Coast, outdoor Fillmore West.
The musical highlight of the evening was Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Cocker is one of the top rock personalities around today. With a presence that dominates and a voice that can really wail, he goes through the most well-known material, leaving the listener stunned with the freshness and excitement that he returns to it. The A&M artist takes Dylan songs, Beatles songs, and Ray Charles songs and makes them all sound like they were written just for him. Writhing his arms, twisting around the stage, and making every note that he sings come alive, he exudes a quality that could only be described as soul, while creating the sexual excitement that is what good rock is all about.
Cocker is a hard act to follow, but the Grateful Dead were up to the task. Bringing the crowd to its feet, the underground favorites were at their best when playing their recent country-flavored numbers like "Dupree's Diamond Blues," which is from their current Warner Bros. LP, "Aoxomoxoa." They also did quite a bit of their old blues-influenced material like "Hard to Handle" and, of course, "Sittin' on Top of the World," but it sounded stale compared with their newer work.
Also on the bill was Tribe, a jazz-blues group from the Bronx. With Tom Miller on sax, Craig Justin on drums, Dion Grody on guitar, and Lanny Brooks on bass, they produce a polished sound which will undoubtedly attract a record company.

(by Dan Goldberg, from Billboard, August 2, 1969)


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1 comment:

  1. The East Village Other ran an article on the Pavilion mentioning Garcia's reaction to it:

    "One of the only places to go in this city to get something close to the San Francisco rock feeling about music is to make the trip to the Pavilion, nestled among the white elephant structures of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens. It is a unique building, like a theater in the round, but it offers the viewer an unimpeded view of the stage - and what is more offers him refreshments without the problem of leaving the music behind. In fact, the music is omnipresent.
    About four weeks ago, I journeyed out to Queens to see a group called Sea Train, the group was not what I was interested in as much as the place itself. To understand the Pavilion, it is necessary to imagine an open air palace complete with imposing columns. There are no obstructions to the stage because there are no seats. One can sit, stand, dance, or freak - it really doesn't matter what you do... In fact, if the minimal entrance fee is too much for you, (Hell, if you can afford Fillmore seats at $5 a shot, then you can more than adequately afford the Pavilion), you can sit outside and listen under the stars. It is probably the best bargain in New York City because it is so free. Moreover, the musicians who play there also get a lift. They are not crowded by the small stage, they are not freaked out by a battery of searchlights blinding them while they play, and the more freedom the musicians have, the better the performance. The fabled Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was enraptured with the Pavilion, I can only second his accolades. Imagine trying to move freely around at the Fillmore and seeing the reaction! ...
    If you like to have the freedom which rock music espouses and you want to listen to music in a place where you can do whatever you want and not disturb anyone else while doing it, then the Pavilion is made for you. It is unfortunate that newyorkcity doesn't lend itself to this type of situation, but the trip to Queens will more than make up for the initial discomfiture. The biggest trip is driving up to the place and seeing such an imposing structure with rock music literally coming out of its sides. Top that Felt Forum!"
    (David Wally, "The Pavillion," East Village Other 9/3/69, p.12)