Confounding Stoner Mountain (By Strategy) by Byron Coley

The last time I ever saw the Dead play was August 6, 1974 in Jersey City, NJ. My good friend, Kevin Riley, had suggested getting tickets right when they went on sale. At that time, the Dead had not really achieved the massive success they soon would, but they were already pretty damn popular. As was witnessed by the fact they were playing a stadium in Jersey, rather than a theater or somewhere in NYC. Although, in my memory, they kinda eschewed NYC for a while after the Fillmore East closed. But even before then, they had played better shows just outside the city, like the string of nights at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, where I'd first seen them, back when I was in prep school.

Regardless, by '74 the Dead seemed to be a bit anachronistic. If you don't remember, '74 was really the year where glam started to make inroads, at least among the exurbs of NYC, which is where I lived. It's hard to explain how fast things changed after the first NY Dolls album came out in spring '73, but they did.

New York Dolls never really got much airplay or anything. So it didn't have the kind of general societal impact as records like TransformerZiggy Stardust and All the Young Dudes had in '72. But the Dolls were almost local, and a whole musical generation younger than ReedBowie and Hunter. Hip local Jersey bands had mostly been doing that Dead/Allmans/Band sorta boogie (a trend which hit its apex at Summer Jam, where just those three bands traded sets, in July '73). But as we got deeper into 1973, a bunch of these bands switched teams toot-fuckin'-sweet. 

I was enjoying some lax time between high school and college right then, traveling the world and working shit jobs. I remember a club in North Jersey we used to hit called the Log Cabin. It was out in the sticks and the bands tended towards the Beard Rock scheme of things. But one weekend, T. Roth & Another Pretty Face played (many miles north of their regular gig down around Packanack Lake) and they were totally duded-up Dolls-style. I'd seen Johansen & Co. at the 82 Club and Mothers, and this Jersey knock-off version was easily as good as Brat or Teenage Lustor any other of the other bands who were mining the same turf. And the bug bit. The very next week, one of the local bands who'd been all overalls just a week before had switched to painted nails and Velvets covers. Kevin and I didn't really care. We rated Reed as an excellent songwriter (Kevin's band had been doing cover of songs from Loaded since it came out), and we were both partial to the slob side of the dandy/slob binary, so style mattered not a whit. We could enjoy glam as music, but the lifestyle was another thing.

 

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