Aug 24, 2018

June 21, 1969: Fillmore East

(I've only seen a poor & barely readable scan of this article, so there are many missing lines and [uncertain words] here. But I'm posting this as a placeholder until a better copy can be found.)


Saturday night [late] show at the Fillmore East (it will always be East) [on] June 21, 1969. The Grateful Dead and their family arrived in New York and revived an era - that of live performances. Bringing with them lots of orange sunshine [from] San Francisco, they proceeded to [turn] New York into a Dionysian festival of love. Orgy might be a [better] word, for they [succeeded] in totally conquering everyone.
The group was created to [blow] sounds and stimulate good trips by the legendary Augustus Stanley Owsley III. In addition to [making] the [finest] acid, [old] Owsley was also a [mean] technician and therefore capable of fostering a technological sound, as well as a psychedelic sound. The Dead knew about acid rock (they invented it), but not the Sgt. Pepper's variety. They came to their sound via the Byrds and Roger (although at that time he was Jim) McGuinn.
Paul Williams described the first album as coming on like Rolling Stones Now. In terms of where they've gone, it's incredible that they began with hard rock. Until I saw them, I had forgotten that they had a bass player [ . . . ]
[The first album contains] old [esoteric] standards such as "Beat It On Down The Line" (blues), "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (trad.), "Sitting On Top of the World" (C&W), "Morning Dew" (folk, out of Canada). They even go the Nanker Phelge route on "Golden Road," "Cold Rain and Snow," and "New, New Minglewood Blues," crediting authorshop to McGannahan Skjellyfetti. The guitar is fast, accurate, and perfectly correct. Tasteful, not excessive. The difference between technological and feedback, is that you hear the latter (Jeff Beck, Jefferson Airplane) but not the former (Byrds, Quicksilver Messenger Service). There is a Moog on the entirety of Notorious Byrd Brothers (Columbia) yet it is apparent only on "Dolphin's Smile" and "Space Odyssey."
Anthem of the Sun (Warner Bros.) is a movie. Only the Dead could have come out with that cover, as much a part of the whole trip as the music. Only with the San Francisco Sound (promoted by Bill Graham) would have come the San Francisco Nouveau Art thing, a la Fillmore posters (also promoted by B.G.). Wes Mouse, Rick Griffith and other freaks capably translated the audial to visual stimuli.
Anthem was almost a live album, minus the screaming and general pisspoor quality of most "Live at PJ's" recordings. By now, they had added a second drummer, Mickey Hart, and Pig-Pen had been replaced by Tom Constanten on piano. This last personnel change was accomplished brilliantly: instead of eliminating Pig-Pen, he just was shifted to a [position] he [more] [competently] [fulfilled], [therefore] [removing] the [possibility] of a nostalgic [posture].
With this change in [structure], there was a [corresponding] change in [nature]. Where the Byrds from rock and roll had [extracted] technological sound, the Dead took technology and [recreated] rock. They have adapted the [essence] of electronic music - melodic structure, something our avant-garde [geniuses] ([Zappa], Harrison, Lennon) fail to [appreciate].
Aoxomoxoa (Warner Bros.), a title to be [grokked] not comprehended, [effects] a [synthesis] of the earlier [albums]. [Not] as [?] as Anthem, [nor] as [hard] as the Dead, we have Garcia [competing] with Sneaky Pete as the Dead take a little country trip.
By side two, the pleasant [caresses] of an [acoustical] Gibson have given way to the [psychic disintegration] of schizophrenic [genius]. Distorted reality reigns hard on the head in a [most intense/mood intensive] passage, "What's Become of the Baby". We become acutely aware of the hauntingly beautiful cover design: the skull, the [sun]
[ . . . ] 
The [concert] began when [someone] [noticed] that some lemonade had been spiked with THC (tranquilizer) and acid (not tranquilizer). You knew the Dead were in town and their gay, rollicking party had begun. Heads began to be blown as they walked on stage, first Captain trips with a purple tee-shirt bearing the legend Anthem. Next we took the Bob Weir trip. At one time, he had the longest, most beautiful blonde hair in rock. That's all gone as he now sports a quasi-conventional coiffure. That was heavy, but not as heavy as his pink rhinestone-studded shirt from Nudie's. They did a couple of country and western numbers for starters. Garcia played pedal steel. Now Jerry is no Sneeky Pete and he mined the nostalgia vein as opposed to the technological (i.e., he made no [movies]), but that's okay because he did it well, which, of course, is a [movie] itself.
With these pre-flight instructions, our plane was suddenly hijacked to Cuba and the trip began. A two hour non-stop masterpiece. The longest I have ever heard anyone play nonstop was [once] the Dead did a forty-five minute jam off "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and Sun Ra plays a set (hour duration) if he's cooking, but two hours - too much. Never boring either. In essence, it was a history of the Dead in non-chronological arrangement. Pig-Pen ended (he sang for half an hour) this journey with "Turn On Your Lovelight." And exploding cherry bombs.

(by Bobby Abrams, from Fusion, 26 July 1969)
(the SBD portion from tracks 13-24 was thought to be from the late show Saturday; however it may actually be from the late show on Friday the 20th) 

See also other brief notes on the June 20-21 Fillmore East shows here and here.

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