Cosmic Carnival, Atlanta 1970

Cosmic Carnival, Atlanta 1970
Authored By John Nicholson

Held on Saturday June 13th, 1970 at Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, home of the Atlanta Braves, with a promising line-up of Albert King, Frank Zappa, Grand Funk Railroad Ike & Tina Turner, It's a Beautiful Day, Sweetwater, Ten Years After, The Allman Brothers Band and Traffic, plus local bands. As it turned out Ike & Tina Turner, Sweetwater, Albert King, Love and Ten Years After did not play.

Now, this was a big stadium holding over 50,000 with the band playing on the field and fans sitting in the stands. However, such a big gap between musicians and audience is never going to be a good vibe, so when the Allmans were playing, Duane invited everyone down onto the field “as long as you don’t trash the grass, man.”  

Photos of the event show a cavernous place with the crowd basically on the field and the stands to the side and behind the band, devoid of people. It gives the whole thing an eerie vibe.

There was a round stage, located on second base, with two staging areas for the band’s equipment, one between second and first bases, the other between second and third. There were track/rails on all three (the center rotated) to slide the next act into place and slide off the finishing act. Then repeat. Did it work? Of course not! The revolving stage was a concept flirted with for many years but only perfected later in the 70s. 

Here it failed immediately and never worked at all. All the bands then had to be loaded the usual way, which meant a good 30-45 minutes between acts. Then it rained heavily, as it was prone to do. They shut it down for two hours fearing everyone would get fried on stage. 

By all accounts Mountain were excellent in playing numbers from their first album. Zappa & the Mothers were wonderful, just trying out at this point with Flo & Eddie. I’m guessing it was basically the Fillmore East album set. The Allman’s too got rave reviews but I don’t believe they ever played a band show in their lives. Traffic too, went down well with Stevie Winwood’s singing getting special praise. 

There was talk of it not being loud enough (I can't imagine Mountain ever being anything other than very loud!) and local hippie magazine The Great Speckled Bird got quite high on its hippie horse about it all being a rip off, for various reasons, most of which included The Man, The Pigs, The City, and generally anyone who was not Us but was Them (not Van Morrison’s band!)

It finished at midnight. It was unremarkable as a gig in one way. It rained, some bands didn’t play, there were hassles with authorities and technical difficulties with the music. But it was a great bill of bands, all for $3. More importantly, it was a focus for the Atlanta hippie and alternative scene. Important, I think, to understand that just being at such shows was as important as seeing the bands. They had a cultural heft beyond the music and into politics and lifestyle.

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