Did anybody in CS ever attend a Fillmore West concert?

I’m plugging away at a NaNoWriMo novel that involves time travelling. One sequence involves going back to Haight Ashbury during the summer of love period and I’m trying to do some research - lots of footage of the neighborhood itself, but surprisingly little of the Fillmore West. I thought that it being such a famous venue, there’d be loads of footage, but no. I found a video of a Jefferson Airplane concert on youtube, but apart from that, and a few ‘stock’ stills, I can’t find a whole lot that depicts the interiors of the place at that time.

I thought I might ask around for some firsthand accounts - did anybody ever see a concert there? What can you recollect? (I know, I know “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t really there!”) What did it actually look like inside? What shows did you see? What were the light shows look like? What were the acoustics like? Where was it exactly (I walked through Haight-Ashbury once or twice, but never went to the actual auditorium.) Any details that you recall that I might add for the sake of verisimiltude?

Additionally, any info about Winterland, the Carousel and the Family Dog I’d appreciate (Depending on a few plot points I haven’t decided upon yet, I might have scenes set there.)

Thanks in advance for your help.

I wasn’t there myself, but if your story takes place during the Summer of Love, don’t use the name “Fillmore West.” It was just the Fillmore then. The “West” was appended when Bill Graham moved the venue from the actual Fillmore Street location to the former Carousel Ballroom in 1968.

I attended many shows at Winterland. I’m at work now, no time to put down anything in detail–but I’ll come back and post some stuff later this evening.

Sorry - Santana at Winterland, but never the Fillmore.

Winterland remembrance Part I:

Winterland Ballroom/Arena was on the corner of Post and Steiner. The main entrance/box office/marquee faced Steiner, and the pre-show line wrapped around the corner down Post St. Coming up from San Jose, we took 280 to 19th, hung a right on Geary and took it all the way to the venue. The prime place to park was right next to the pedestrian overpass at Geary and Steiner–which also provided easy access to the KFC across the street.

Depending on the show, we’d try to get there a couple of hours early to grab a spot in line. A party atmosphere prevailed, with pot and alcohol being consumed pretty much in the open. The local winos would make their way along the line asking for "just a taste" of whatever might be available.

When the doors opened, security would begin chanting “tickets out and ready”, and the crowd would enter in a fairly orderly manner. There was a very cursory pat-down by security; in my experience, cameras, half-pint bottles, and small amounts of contraband were allowed in without too much of a hassle. It wasn’t unusual to see people inside walking around and holding up signs that said “Lids: $10”.

Once inside, we made a beeline to our favorite spots. The overwhelming number of shows I attended were “festival” seating, which meant first-come, first-serve of the open floor and seats around it, or seats in the balcony that went around the floorspace and behind the stage as well. If we got in early enough, we’d try for spots in front of the stage; otherwise, we’d go for balcony seats looking down on the stage about one-third of the way back (stage left being preferable to stage right for some reason).

End of part I. If this is the kind of thing you’re looking for, let me know, and I’ll add some more.

It took me five minutes to figure out what “CS” stood for!..TRM

I’m pretty sure that the Filmore West later reincarnated as the Elite Club - which was THE place in SF to see the big hardcore shows. Ya, I know, club foot, the fab mab, the On Broadway, that dive downstairs in the mission for the after hours show (I forget the name), etc. But when it came to big ass headlining hardcare extravagenza’s, then it was the Elite Club. Where else would you see Jack from TSOL strip from a poodle sweater down to a speedo, only to have Jello B get stripped buck naked and then still do his crowd diving?

Ha, from Wiki:
The Fillmore (also known as Fillmore Auditorium) is a historic music venue in San Francisco, California, made famous by Bill Graham. Named for its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, it lies on the boundary of the Western Addition and the Pacific Heights neighborhoods. In 1968, Graham moved his concerts to a different venue at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue (formerly known as The Carousel Ballroom and El Patio) which he renamed Fillmore West; the original Fillmore Auditorium continued under the name The Elite Club. Graham began presenting concerts at the original Fillmore Auditorium again in the 1980s, but it was closed due to earthquake damage in October 1989. After much structural work, in 1994 the original Geary Boulevard location re-opened as The Fillmore.

This is definitely the kind of thing I’m looking for, thanks and please add a part II.

The regulars will be able to tell you lots more, since I was at the Fillmore West only twice, for Steve Miller Band Sept 11, 1969 and Eric Burdon & War Sept 23, 1970

Since this has been 39 and 40 years ago, and since it was the 60s and 70s, I mostly remember the music. Couple of impressions remain, though. Much of he area around the stage had been decorated with florescent paint, the stage wasn’t very high and it was fascinating to watch the light show people. i remember one effect they got by shining a light up underneath a glass table through two glass bowls nested inside each other. In between the two was what I guessed was salad oil with food coloring in it. By squishing the bowls closer together, and moving them around they could make globs of colored shapes they could even pulse in size. They had some sort of projector that would angle the light 90 degrees to shine on the band and the stage. Other stuff was aimed at the ceiling, and some of the higher members of the crowd would look up rather than at the band. There were doobies making the rounds, and acid was available at a reasonable price in the men’s room.

Okay, here goes, Part II

My main impression when I walked onto the main floor of Winterland for the first time was, “I’ve never seen so many black lights in my life!” The entire place was UV-lit, making white clothing glow brightly. People often wore t-shirts with day-glo designs to take advantage of the lighting. The ice rink-sized floor was usually standing-only, with the mixing board set about halfway back. sometimes there were a couple of full-sized video cameras set up about 15’ from the front of the stage. At the shows I went to, the video cameras were for recording only–there wasn’t a live feed projected on the screen. Hanging from the rafters; large US and UK flags and an impressive mirror ball.

Before the concert and inbetween sets they would play music–quite loudly-over the PA system. You could almost count on hearing “Can’t You Hear My Knocking” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again” right before the featured act hit the stage. Sometimes they’d show B&W videos of previous concerts on a screen over the stage. On a few occassions they would set up volleyball nets and invite fans to come down and play city-vs-city games in between acts. (see link below for a shot of Bill Graham setting up a spike shot)

I remember the sound system being pretty good–it was a little echo-y before the place filled up, but I don’t remember ever going home with complaints about how the concert sounded. Of course there were equipment and problems getting the mix right from time to time, but that’s just rock ‘n’ roll. Listen to Frampton Comes Alive or watch The Last Waltz and you’ll get an idea of what Winterland sounded like on a good night.

There was a souvenir shop of sorts called “Bill Graham’s Rock Shop” in the lobby area, where you could get t-shirts, posters and other paraphenalia. Tickets were cheap by today’s standards ($3-$8), and concerts almost always featured three bands. (notable opening acts included Aerosmith for The Kinks, King Crimson for Steve Miller, Foghat for Frank Zappa. and Uriah Heep for Manfred Mann) Of course, since there were no cell phones, people spent most of the show actually watching the performance. People did mill around in the hallways, but most were there to see the bands–as opposed to just hanging out for the evening.

The giant mirror ball would drop towards the end of the main act’s show, and we could tell it was all over when they started playing “Greensleeves” over the PA. Sometimes the shows were simulcast over KSAN FM–most notably the last-ever show by The Sex Pistols.

I scanned a few old photos from my scrapbooks and posted them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7896173@N03/sets/72157622804458816/
Link to pics of Wolfgang’s Vault exhibit at the SF Mint: http://picasaweb.google.com/yawndave/RockAtTheMint?feat=directlink

I was in San Francisco at the time and caught a couple concerts there. For the reasons mentioned before I am a bit vague on specific details, I saw the Jefferson Airplane and I think Nazz or maybe Canned Heat. The light show sticks in my mind. Throughout the squishy floaty thing Hometownboy describes was there. But there was also old time cartoons (I am thinking Betty Boop during the Airplane - I was drawing similarities between Grace Slick and Boop [I was very wrecked at the time and it made complete sense] - and Popeye among others I think). I also remember films of soldiers and explosions be projected onto the stage. I also remember short films of people of the time being projected, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon with Kruschev, John Wayne, tribes of Indians attacking and dancing. The spotlights were all different colors.

I was born after its most (in)famous period, but THE Fillmore’s still a great venue. Several concerts have been filmed there- Tom Petty recorded one when he took up a weeklong residency there, and I just saw a Sara Bareilles concert that was recorded there. Plenty of interior shots in those.