Concert Report: The MC-5

Saturday 3, May 1969
*Great Neck North Junior High Gymnasium*


William Aronstein

    The MC5 is the most perfect example of the modern guerrilla band, radically altering American culture with no-nonsense, rock-hard rock. The band is totally committed to the nation's youth. Out of all of the nation's bands, the MC5 is one of the very few who will perform at a high school even though there is more money in a club.
    With all of this in mind, the idea of inviting the MC5 to the High School in Great Neck entered my head. I wrote a letter to Trans-Love Energies about it.
    I didn't know exactly what to expect, but, to something akin a surprise, John Sinclair wrote back to me in early April that the band would be happy to come to Great Neck on May 3. The date was perfect. I did not expect any difficulties.
    The Class Council of the Class of 1971 fully approved and accepted the concert, and the project became an official class function. We were now, as an official school organization, sponsoring the concert.
    The next day, I went down to the Junior High to see about using the gym. It was open for the night of the third, and I was back the day after that with a signed, formal request for the facilities, in order to conform with the bureaucratic red-tape.
    I was called down into the Assistant Principal's office, and he asked me what was going on. I explained, but thought that something was weird.
    I had a long discussion with him. He mentioned that he had been in the theatre business and had checked out the MC5. He tried to rap about the infinite number of American rock bands and their unreliability. He told me that the MC5 caused riots and were very far left. He said that we could not use the gym. I asked him about the Senior High. "No," he said, "if they (Jr) won't touch it, we won't either."
    On Thursday morning, we went back to see the Asst. Principal. Actually, our sponsor saw him. At the end of the day, we went to the office and waited for the assistant principal. He said that, after conferring with our Principal, it has been decided that we could not hold our MC5 concert in the Senior High either.
    We did not know where to go. I called up a member of the Board of Education, who agreed to check it out by calling the Superintendent of Schools.
    On Friday morning, at 8:45 a.m. (one day before the concert), I went into conference with my sponsor, the treasurer of the class, the principal and the superintendent. We were all cordial, but we all knew what was going down. We settled down to business.
    We students are asked to leave while the staff members make a decision. Of course, it is in our favor. We will have a concert, but we will have to pay for guards and custodians. The previous day, the principal had told me that it would be absolutely impossible to secure the necessary guards for the Senior High. So now we have them. More bureaucratic bullshit.
    The concert was scheduled for the next day at 9 p.m. One day. We had only sold about 150 tickets!!! That night, I initiated a mass telephone campaign to inform the kids of what was going down. It was successful.
    Saturday evening, 6:00 p.m., I go to the school and put up signs. We wait for the equipment truck. A reporter from Magnum shows up. The crowd begins to arrive.
    There was only one problem. The Principal had said that he was going to bring his twelve-year-old son to the concert, and he wanted no obscenity or talk of marijuana. He did show up on schedule.
    At last I walked up to the microphone, thanked the people I had to thank, and announced the MC5!
    The band raced to the equipment, and J.C. Crawford immediately grabbed a microphone. He began a short rock'n'roll revival sermon, touching briefly on student unrest and the powers of youth. The band quickly moved into their first number.
    I went to the Principal's office upstairs to check about the money. He had opened the safe and was counting it with a couple of kids. I noticed that the music was inaudible inside the office.
    I walked outside and heard the strains of "Ramblin' Rose." I knew we had to think of something fast. I went inside and pulled a friend aside. I asked him to stall the principal, and have him count the money at least once again. I raced downstairs to the gym, just as Robin was beginning "It's time to ... now ... it's always time to ... " and the kids were shouting, "Say it! ... say it!"
    I signaled that it was all right. There was a moment of silence.

© William Aronstein - 1969
Taken from CHANGES ~ Vol.1#2 June 15th, 1969 ~