MESSENGER ROCK-BAND IMPRESSIVE, AIDED BY $50,000 WORTH OF GEAR
San Francisco sights and sounds descended on Portland Monday night and for once the Bay City's press agentry has not over-stated its case.
The colorful visuals which have filled most national magazines for more than a year are nothing compared with being inside Jerry Abrams' light show, and the Quicksilver Messenger Service is easily the strongest rock band to play Portland (unless it was the Grateful Dead, which played the second half of the Portland State College show and was missed because of an early deadline).
In terms of pure logistics, the show is heavy enough. A fast count showed some 23 speaker units up front and 20 or so light-making devices behind. The Grateful Dead manager estimated the worth of the gear in the ballroom at approximately $50,000.
The Messenger Service, which has just completed an album for Columbia, has unusual scope for a rock group. After executing some of the more or less standard climax building exercises - distinguished by the massive force it generated - the band did a piece in 6-8 time which was jazz of an unpolished but muscular variety.
Both guitarists took solos and so did the drummer, sounding a little like Gene Krupa using dumbbells instead of drumsticks.
The next tune featured a Cajun type, pile driving rhythm and a folk-sounding vocal. It's a very good band and an encouraging portent of things to come in the rock idiom.
As impressive as the band is, the initial interest of this package from San Francisco is the light show. Veils, brocades, and terrestrial textures on the sides frame the busy center panel which leaps with a hard alternation of planetary imagery and swelling, pinching cynosure frames.
Later a dancer from the '20s swims in a delicate blizzard of color, and clusters of alabaster grapes float by while the side panels flicker with Calder-looking flower motifs.
A lot to look at, in other words, and plenty to hear. The package plays two more shows in Portland, Friday and Saturday at the Crystal Ballroom. We'll have to catch the "Dead."
(by Jack Berry, from the Oregonian, 30 January 1968)
Alas, no tape!
Thanks to Dave Davis.