Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fillmore East March 22-23, 1968: The Doors/ARS Nova/Crome Syrcus

(this post is part of a series cataloging every performance at The Fillmore East)

Two weeks after a single show with Big Brother on Friday, March 8, to inaugurate the venue, the Fillmore East featured The Doors for two shows on both Friday and Saturday. This initiated an almost continuous run of weekend shows through June of 1971.

The Doors had already had a huge hit with "Light My Fire" (Summer 67) and their first two albums were big hits. Strange Days, The Doors second album had been released by Elektra in November 1967.  The Doors were one of the first bands who had to choose between ‘AM’ stardom (16 Magazine) and ‘FM’ stardom (Rolling Stone).  The Doors rapidly moved on to venues larger than the Fillmore East.  Kostelanetz reports that the late show on Saturday went on until 3:45 am.  He called the band “at the time, the greatest rock performers I have ever seen.”

Free-form ‘underground’ FM radio had started in San Francisco in spring 1967, and rapidly spread to every major city. Suddenly album cuts were being played in their entirety, and if a DJ liked a band he could make a band popular by himself.  Since there were very few underground rock stations, the individual stations themselves (such as WNEW in New York) were very influential.  Not only did the stations help determine who was popular, not playing a band on underground radio made them ‘uncool.’  Even universally popular bands like the Beatles and Stones did not typically have their AM singles played on FM, as that was ‘uncool.’

Ars Nova was a six-piece ‘baroque rock’ group, with a two-piece brass section.  They had an album on Elektra (1968). 

Crome Syrcus (often mis-billed as Chrome Syrcus, or Chrome Circus) was originally from Seattle, and they had one album on the obscure Command label (1968). They had been commissioned to write the music for a Joffrey Ballet show (“Astarte”) and received a lot of national press coverage as a result. They were in New York at the time, performing regularly with the ballet.  They apparently performed at the ballet, uptown, between the early and late Fillmore East shows.

next: March 29-30, 1968 Richie Havens/The Troggs/United States of America


  1. From a youtube video of Ars Nova's full album:

    The band split up after a disastrous performance supporting The Doors at the Fillmore East in mid-1968.

    As I recall, Fillmore East audiences could be......expressive.

    1. I was at the early show and I would not call the opening acts disastrous. They were disappointing, but who could live up to the amazing energy and theatre generated by the Doors at these shows? Even the Doors couldn't, as video of later shows demonstrates.