Feb 22, 2022

June 20, 1969: Fillmore East

(Fillmore East, N.Y.)

San Francisco's Grateful Dead finally broke through to a previously semi-apathetic New York audience as they roused crowds at their four-show concert at the Fillmore East, N.Y., over the weekend (20-21). The event, which featured England's Savoy Brown Blues Band and The Buddy Miles Express, grossed $32,000. 
At both the Fillmore East and a free afternoon concert at Central Park last Sunday (22), the Dead earned overdue recognition as one of the biz's top rock groups, and in doing so, they significantly boosted future b.o. drawing power. For the last few years, the septet's joyful brand of thoroughly fused rock has been spreading Bacchanalia on the Coast, where the group is credited as a major contributor to the original "San Francisco sound." The feeling caught at the Fillmore on Friday as the patrons clapped, sang, and uninhibitedly danced in the aisles until they were forced to be seated due to fire laws. 
The Dead have devoted themselves to continually advancing their strikingly original and freely expressive sound, and have thus managed to maintain the fresh enthusiasm usually found only in new groups. Today's combo performance trends find most groups allowing luck to form their sets as they play their most popular tunes to the point of boring repetition. 
The Dead have reinstated the vaudeville concept of a variety show by working as a rock group, c&w folk band (with leader-guitarist Jerry Garcia picking pedal steel guitar), and a folk duet (Garcia and Bob Weir). They steadily come up with new material and new directions, such as the country-gospel "Jordan," "The Dier Wolf" [sic], and a goodtimey revamp of "Casey Jones." 
Grateful Dead's musical technique and dynamic phrasing is slated to influence rock's melodic and rhythmic structure. Two drummers supply vivid percussive side effects as well as beat while Garcia and Weir's upfront guitar playoff and Phil Lesh's singing bass lines bend and shape spontaneous melodies. 
Savoy Brown's quintet has become more consistent and can now turn in intense sets without their previous slumps. The combo has a young viewpoint and can therefore convey its brand of blues to its teenage following. 
Buddy Miles concentrates on coordination and has a fine guitar-organ combination backed by subtly potent horns and, of course, Miles' powerhouse drumming. The Buddy Miles Express is on the right track and will continue to progress as a topnotch big band.
(by Pine, from Variety, June 25, 1969)
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com  

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1 comment:

  1. A short Variety review giving a music-industry perspective of the Dead's June '69 appearance at the Fillmore East. It's not well-written - the writing's nonsensical in places - but it has some interesting points.

    It's said that the Fillmore audience was "previously semi-apathetic" toward the Dead, which seems like it can't be true; but at their previous Fillmore East shows the Dead had opened for Jeff Beck & Janis Joplin, and hadn't necessarily won over those audiences. Now they were the headliners, and getting a much stronger reaction: "the patrons clapped, sang, and uninhibitedly danced in the aisles until they were forced to be seated."
    This reviewer's also followed the Dead long enough to notice that they're changing their sets: "they steadily come up with new material and new directions." Now they're like "a variety show" with different kinds of music in their set, from folk to rock to country. He finds their sound "strikingly original" and thinks they might influence other rock groups.

    The tape circulating as 6/21/69 is most likely from June 20. Christgau's account of the June 20 late show names Dire Wolf, Mama Tried, King Bee, and Lovelight (all on the tape), and also mentions the non-circulating encore ("Garcia and Weir responded with a brief acoustic spiritual") which was evidently the "folk-duet" "Jordan" mentioned here. (The only Jordans we have are the ones joined by the New Riders in 1970, so this duet version would have sounded different.) But a tape redate isn't totally certain, since another review of the June 21 late show says it ALSO opened with pedal-steel songs and ended with Lovelight.
    This reviewer also names Casey Jones, not on tape, but thought to be played in the early 6/20 show.