THREE ROCK GROUPS SHARE SHRINE STAGE
Shrine Exposition Hall was the scene for two San Francisco ballroom-style concerts featuring the Buffalo Springfield, the Grateful Dead, and the Blue Cheer Friday and Saturday nights.
The music was very good, at least on Friday night; dancing was allowed and the groups provided six hours of entertainment for the price of admission, the Dead and the Cheer performing two sets while the Buffalo Springfield played once, at length.
Trios seem to be the latest trends for rock groups, most notably the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Cream. The Blue Cheer, from San Francisco, are the latest threesome to emerge on the scene.
To avoid the thinness that might be expected from three instruments, they turn the amplifiers on their bass and lead guitars to maximum volume and use feedback to sustain a continuous din from their instruments, underpinned by amplified drums.
The result is an enormous fuzzy sound which swoops and dives through their loosely-structured material. The bass player, a shoulder-length blond, screeches out their lyrics.
Much of their repertoire sounds like a combination of the beginning of "You and Me and Pooneil" by the Jefferson Airplane and the end of "My Generation" by the Who: barely controlled cacophony, but the effect is exciting. The drummer, particularly, is very good.
The Grateful Dead, who were recording their appearance (with the help of an extra drummer), took several numbers to warm up, giving routine performances of "On Down the Line," "Morning Dew" and "Good Morning Little School Girl."
They were superb, however, on some new material which sounded better than anything included in their first album. The best of their new songs was "The Other One," featuring a lead vocal by guitarist Jerry Garcia.
By their second set, they were thoroughly thawed and closed the concert with a 36-minute blending of two new pieces, "Alligator" and "Caution." Garcia and Pigpen crossfired gospel shouts for part of the number and the quintet's instrumental rapport was the best it has been in local appearances.
But the stars of the evening were the Buffalo Springfield, who deserve to be the top group in the country as the result of their records and appearances.
Their sound is rooted in folk-rock, that much-abused cliche, but they seem to be able to do anything. To prove it, they dished up an endless version of their hit "Blue Bird" which made the psychedelic efforts of the Cheer and the Dead sound amateurish and would have been unobtainable by most groups even with the full resources of a recording studio.
Steve Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay and Dewey Martin shared solos for their repertoire, which included "Rock 'n' Roll Woman," "Telephone Pole" (a new song), "Clancy," "Mr. Soul," "Hung Upside Down" and "For What It's Worth."
Their lyrics are uniformly striking, their tunes varied and good, and their playing has both impact and polish.
A light show set up to augment the music did not seem worth the effort, since the main screen was placed on a wall opposite the stage, creating more illustration than enhancement, and an attempt to generate a smoke cloud for light effects caused part of the audience to flee the stuff, which smelled like insecticide.
(by Pete Johnson, from the Los Angeles Times, November 14 1967)
Thanks to snow & rain at the Transitive Axis forum.