Nov 10, 2013

April 26, 1971: Fillmore East


At the Woodstock Festival, the Great White Hope of the 1960's, the audience was the whole show. This has not been the case since. Audiences have been generally morose. But the Grateful Dead has a way of bringing out the fancy in a rock audience and is doing so, magnificently, this week at the Fillmore East.
The San Francisco band is playing at the East Village theater through tonight, ending a five-day series. In that time the group has drawn the most colorful collection of people seen at a New York concert in a while. They come in war paint, they dance and play ring-around-a-rosie in the lobby, and generally create one of the most bizarre youth spectacles since all those people wallowed in the Catskill mud two years ago.
The Dead are one of the few remaining original San Francisco bands. They were featured in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and somehow it has fallen to them (and Jefferson Airplane) to maintain the geriatric strands of hippiedom. They do it well, in image (surrounded by a coterie of Hell's Angels and other types) and in music (they still play the extended, impressionistic rock of years ago, led by Jerry Garcia's rather brilliant guitar solos).
The set I saw, Monday night, was rather disappointing musically. The group seemed a bit tired compared with previous New York appearances. But the audience didn't appear to mind, carrying on as though the Summer of Love wasn't four years gone. And, as at all Dead performances, the audience is the whole show.

(by Mike Jahn, from the New York Times, April 29 1971)

* * *

[APRIL 27]

"I want you to meet another famous California group," said Jerry Garcia, late in a Grateful Dead set at the Fillmore East one recent mid-week night. And who appeared but the Beach Boys. They did four numbers, including, appropriately enough, "I Get Around," then jammed with the Dead for a good 45 minutes, doing numbers like "Johnny B. Goode," "Searchin'," and "Okie from Muskogee." Bob Dylan watched from the sound booth commenting, "Fuck, they're damned good." Then the light show flashed the word "Dylan" for an instant, and Bob, his privacy jeopardized again, split out the door.

(from "Random Notes," Rolling Stone, May 27 1971)

The Beach Boys are now in discussions with the Grateful Dead for a possible joint tour, having gotten along so famously on stage at the Fillmore East a few weeks back.

(from "Random Notes," Rolling Stone, July 8 1971)


  1. Short and not too informative, but it does have a brief glimpse of the "colorful" deadhead audience, which already stood out from normal concert crowds. (And I like the reference, in 1971, to "the geriatric strands of hippiedom," as if the '60s were some long-distant era.)
    Garcia is singled out, as usual. Unfortunately the reviewer wasn't too impressed with the show on the 26th - "rather disappointing musically. The group seemed a bit tired." Of course, compared with their titanic Fillmore East runs of 1970, almost anything would have been a letdown...

  2. I added a brief note from Rolling Stone about the April 27 show.
    This is the first sighting of Dylan seeing the Dead (there was one a year later at the Roosevelt Stadium 7/18/72 show). It's not clear whether he met the band backstage either time, though - it seems not.
    Also not clear whom he's referring to when he says "they're damned good," but my bet's on the Dead.

    The Beach Boys had been booked with the Dead a few days before, 4/24/71 at Duke University in NC, and would be spotted with them again at the 6/8/74 Oakland show, but there was to be no joint tour.

  3. Another short review from Billboard:

    Fillmore East, New York

    Of death, taxes, and the Grateful Dead, the Dead are the only certainty that can be enjoyed, and in this life. Thanks to their offshoot, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the deftly grooved sound of the Dead can now be heard anytime, anywhere, all night, tonight. Warner Bros.' New Riders - Jerry Garcia, Spencer Dryden, Marmaduke Dawson & Friends - kicked off their four-day Fillmore stand in third gear, slick and game, and when rhythm and harmony came together to cast a high spell on "Six Days on the Road" and "Down in the Boondocks," the result was fast release into party, bubbling from an underground spring of youth, of students on vacation. The Dead are a folk tradition cum ritual that burns and soars with the grace of giving that has made rock a first taste of religion.
    ("Talent in Action" - Ed Ochs, Billboard, 8 May 1971)

  4. Another short review from Variety (thanks to JGMF) -


    The Grateful Dead topped a bill of marathon rock at The Fillmore East last week (25-29), aided by their offshoot group, The New Riders of The Purple Sage. The run grossed $63,500, drawing house capacity for the five shows.
    The Dead's sound has improved since the vocal harmony lessons by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as evidenced by "Mama Tried," "Me And Bobby McGee," and "Casey Jones." Guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir jelled, but the group lacked its early fire, seeming to rely upon well rehearsed arrangements to pull them through their set.
    Garcia plays pedal steel guitar with The New Riders of The Purple Sage, the Dead's companion group. Playing exclusively country music, The New Riders shined on "Six Days On The Road," "Down In The Boondocks," and "Lodi." --Bozz.
    ("Concert Reviews," Variety, 5 May 1971)