The Joshua Light Show at the Fillmore East

The Joshua Light Show at the Fillmore East

Curious about the light shows at the Fillmore Auditorium, Joshua White made his way out to San Francisco in 1967. “I was really struck with how sloppy it was, in the sense that the light show wasn’t particularly great,” he recalled. “The people in the audience all together, that was the exciting part, but there was something wrong about the light show—because it wasn’t that dynamic.” White and his partners still picked up some ideas from the venue’s oil and liquid projections, and when one of the Fillmore’s lighting designers moved to New York, they all began collaborating. “He showed us the artistic things which were hard,” White said, “and we showed him how to do mechanical things which were hard—like attaching a color wheel to a motor in front of the projector.” Everyone who worked at the Fillmore East came out of theater school—including White—and they also had the good luck of sharing a building wall with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “Their students came over because rock ’n’ roll was exciting,” White said, “and many of them got involved in the Fillmore. So we began with this very high level of well-trained people.” The psychedelic Joshua Light Show became part of the Fillmore East experience as soon as it opened on March 8, 1968. Bands usually performed two separate shows an evening, often for multiple-night runs, which allowed the Joshua Light Show to experiment and refine their techniques. “It was a perfect way to grow a light show,” White said. “You just keep doing it, and we kept doing it for two years. We developed a palette, and that palette just got bigger and bigger.”

From Chapter 19 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Fillmore East
105 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003