The old days
Lawnparties is a unique event that now happens twice a year. It brings the Princeton community together to either welcome in a new year full of promise and hopes or celebrate the close of another (hopefully successful) year.
It is also, however, an event that continually brings together a wide-array of musical guests and performers to put on a great show for the student body right in our own backyard, or more accurately, in recent years, in Quad’s backyard.
As with any tradition, half of the appreciation of it comes from the direct experience of the events, but the other half comes from a look back at its origin and an understanding of what makes it special.
The Street, at lawnparties, in the past has played host to many rising artists that are now extremely successful chart-toppers including Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Lifehouse. However, Princeton has never been a stranger to popular and successful musical acts.
In the days before Lawnparties was known as Lawnparties, there were many concerts and events that took place in Jadwin Gym, Dillon Gym, and McCarter Theatre. Here are just a few of the more noteworthy performances:
• On May 5, 1967, Simon and Garfunkel descended on Princeton’s campus to play a show at McCarter Theatre. The tickets for this event cost between $3.50 and $2.50
• On April 27, 1974 the UGA and McCarter Theatre convince the University to open up the Jadwin Cage as a venue to accommodate larger rock groups for the first time and bring in Cat Stevens. This was followed up in the winter of 1974 with Jadwin’s second concert, The Beach Boys.
• On November 1, 1978 students camped outside McCarter Theatre in order to get tickets to see Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen and not one of them was disappointed by a concert in which “every song worked a certain magic over the crowd.” According to legend, it was a crowd which got rowdy enough to damage the floor of Jadwin.
• In the spring of 1985, after REM cancelled on the USG to extend its European tour, REM accepts to play the show for a low price, which was opened up by Chaka Khan. The event was free for freshmen and sophomores, but upperclassmen had to pay $5 to attend and, despite this charge, the event still went way over budget, costing the USG $13,651.
• In 1996, the USG helps bring James Brown to Dillon Gym. The 2000 tickets sell out within a day and half and “The Godfather of Soul” did not disappoint his audience.
• In the spring of 2001, country legend Willie Nelson plays on Cannon Green to a captive audience and, in November of the same year, rock legend Billy Joel plays for a packed Richardson Auditorium.
Over the past half century our campus has featured other shows from Miles Davis to the Grateful Dead and everything in between. The significance of live acts to campus life across the decades should be widely recognized by the Princeton community.