Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
In response to continued pressure from the student body, George Washington University Sunday night opened the Smith Athletic Center for a rock concert headlined by Bonnie Raitt.
With the short-end bleachers behind the stage blocked off and 1,100 folding chairs set up on the floor, Smith Center accomodates about 5,000 people. University concerts were previously limited to Lisner Auditorium, which holds 1,500.
University officials have feared the free-wheeling informality of a popular concert might lead to some kind of damage to the athletic center. Students (before Sunday's concert) wondered about the acoustics in what is basically a concrete square.
Neither concern was justified. There was no unruly behavior, and few infringements on the no-smoking rule (in what is probably a first, ushers were equipped with sand-filled pails in which to dump any lighted cigarettes).
The sound, blunted only by a carpet on the floor and the crowd, was clear throughout most of the house. Mike Schreibman of New Era Concerts, who produced the show for GWU, said the University considered the Raitt concert "an experiment."
Bonnie Raitt was a lucky choice for an initiation. Long a Washington favorite, she sold out the hall as expected.
Raitt was last seen here at the Warner Theater. This time she left the acoustic guitar at home, opting to play only her harder electric and slide material.
Since her next album isn't due out until fall, she took the opportunity to play some of her older favorites. "Runaway" was recognized the quickest, but Jackson Browne's "My Opening Farewell" received one of the strongest responses.