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Friday, August 2, 2013

Backstage at the Fillmore San Francisco: A Virtual Tour

Posted By on Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 4:51 PM

click to enlarge Fillmore booker Michael Bailey in the venue's Poster Room. All photos by Mike Koozmin - MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin
  • Fillmore booker Michael Bailey in the venue's Poster Room. All photos by Mike Koozmin

The Fillmore, a tan-colored cube at Geary and Fillmore streets in San Francisco, is one of the country's most iconic live music venues. The room helped incubate the city's revolutionary '60s rock scene, and was recently named by Rolling Stone as the No. 2 "big room" in America. For SF Weekly's new Pilgrimage Issue, we spoke with Michael Bailey, the man who has booked the Fillmore since 1987. He also gave us a tour of the surprisingly compact structure, which was built as a community meeting hall around 1906 and used for many purposes before Bill Graham started booking concerts there in the mid-'60s. So if you've ever wanted to see what it's like backstage at the Fillmore, check out these photos, all of which were shot by Mike Koozmin.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

The posters in the Fillmore's upstairs hang in chronological order. They begin in the poster room, with the original concerts by artists like the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead that Bill Graham used for advertising in the '60s.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

The venue, Bailey says, is now about out of room for any more posters, and will soon have to start displaying only selected years and/or artists at any one time.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

The Fillmore still maintains its tradition of producing posters for every show that sells out, and giving them away to fans at the end of the night. There's a mini-shrine to Jerry Garcia above the narrow staircase.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

This is the headliner dressing room upstairs at the Fillmore, one of the venue's few exclusive spaces.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

The bathroom inside the Fillmore's headliner dressing room. Just think about what's, er, gone on between these walls.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

The upstairs dressing room doesn't exactly feel large, but it is comfortable.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

With just the overhead lights on, the main room at the Fillmore feels small -- much smaller than when it's set up for a show. The floor has a posted capacity of 999 people, but with the balconies and the poster room, total capacity is just under 1,200.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

Climbing the side stairs to get onto the Fillmore's stage sends your stomach churning just a little bit, even when the room is empty. From up there, you understand partly why the venue is so well-liked by performers: the high, broad stage has clear, unimpeded sightlines, so fans can see artists and performers can easily tell how the crowd is responding.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

These odd-looking baffles above the front-of-house mixing area help maintain the Fillmore's acoustics.

click to enlarge MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin

For more on the Fillmore, read our full interview with Michael Bailey.

-- @iPORT


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Ian S. Port

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