Mar 22, 2017

October 11, 1970: Paterson State College, Wayne, NJ


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)  


  1. This is a poorly written, rather confusing article which nonetheless gives us a little glimpse into one of the overcrowded college shows of fall 1970.

    Two witnesses online state that the Dead played two shows on 10/11/70. One person says there were "early and late shows," and one commenter on the Archive gives more detail:
    "The college did not book the band until a week before the gig. The college did not tell the band that to pay them what they wanted they would have to play two shows in one night because the theater only had a few hundred seats. The tickets were $3 and $4. There was supposed to be 6:00 and 9:00 shows. The band was all there by 5:30 except for Lesh who was lost in a taxi riding around Paterson for hours because the taxi driver did not know Paterson State is not in Paterson. Needless to say Lesh showed up at 8:30 and we had a 9:00 and a 10:30 show. There was a midnight curfew. The second show opened with China Cat."
    Another person on remembers a little more vaguely, "I was on the committee that planned and put on this concert. Half the band was taken to Wayne, PA by a taxi from the airport and we didn't find them for hours! The concert started somewhere around 11pm!"

    The Archive memory in particular corresponds with what the article fuzzily reports - there were two shows, at 7 and 9, and Lesh arrived in a cab, too late for the first show, so a second "late show" was added later on in the evening.

    The Beacon had reported that there was to be only one Dead show - the Dead were listed on the Homecoming weekend schedule as early as Sept. 29 with one Sunday show. The 10/6/70 Beacon ran
    a large ad:
    Paterson State College Assembly Committee Presents
    The Grateful Dead
    Sunday, October 11, 1970
    Marion E. Shea Auditorium
    10:00 PM
    Tickets $3.50 with College ID

    Yet somehow by the 11th, this turned into two shows. My guess is the ticket demand was so high, the college decided to split it into two shows. Most likely this went like the Stony Brook shows at the end of the month, where most people just attended both shows anyway. The reporter mentions about 200 people getting in for free, and laments "the brevity of both performances."
    The audience tape is likely a combination of both shows, with a number of songs missing.

  2. Deadlists says, on the basis of this article, that there was another unscheduled Dead concert on the 12th. There's not enough evidence to say for sure whether this happened, though. Possibly the high demand caused the Dead (and college) to add another show on a free day. But none of the witnesses who were there said that there was another show the next day. The front-page caption of the Beacon just said that the Dead "performed two concerts" with "one of the largest crowds ever" at Paterson State. And the article doesn't exactly say that another concert was added - it says that if you'd missed the early show, "there would be a concert sometime the night of October 12."
    This article is written in a rather confusing manner which makes it hard to tell exactly what happened. It also has several typos. I think what the writer meant to say is that despite the early show not being played, there was still another concert sometime later on the night of October 11, which ticket-holders for the early show could attend. Along with the other witnesses, it seems clear there were two shows and not just two sets that night - the writer mentions "the second appearance," "both performances," "each show," though he only describes one audience. (He attended both, as probably did most people.)

    This must be one of the few Dead show reviews which complains that Phil's bass was "lacking," though he says it's because Phil hopped onstage from the cab "without even tuning up." He praises Garcia, is astonished by the "wall of speakers," likes the Dead's "immediately captivating" rock/blues/country style, and rather perceptively cites the Band as a major influence.