A WILD S.F. WEEKEND OF ROCK
In Antonioni's "Blow Up" there's a wonderful moment in a rock club scene when guitarist Jeff Beck of the Yardbirds first belts the amplifier and then wrecks his guitar in frustration at the problems of electronics.
Monday night's party for the Grateful Dead was aborted when the power failed and the Dead's set was chopped short. So everything you see in the movies isn't fantasy.
The party was a curious climax to a weekend of wild expansion of rock. Chuck Berry's marvelous performances at Winterland and the Fillmore (he actually came back for encores and was almost as shaken up by his reception here as he was the first time he played London and the fans mobbed him) were one of the highlights of the season.
The Dead's performances on the Chuck Berry show were fascinating, too. Jerry Garcia's guitar solos were extraordinary even in the problem-ridden sound chamber of Winterland.
At Mills College there was a rock conference with criminologists, anthropologists, sociologists, zoologists, marine biologists...oooooops! Well, I mean there was just about every kind of approach to the subject. Phil Spector was on two panels Sunday and gave fascinating insights into the Beatles and the Stones - as well as his own operations - and the evening ended with the Jefferson Airplane performing without stewardess Grace Slick who is recuperating from her operation. Three dancers performed with them in a farcical demonstration of rock dancing, better examples of which are on the floor every weekend at the Fillmore and the Avalon. It was "The Reader's Digest goes acid" in the words of Frank Werber of Trident Records.
The Dead's party was a little like that, too. "It's a great party Verve is throwing," a hippie remarked nastily to a Warner Brothers executive who promptly said that WB was sponsoring it. "Oh well, one of those movie companies," the hippie said dreamily.
The Avalon Ballroom is offering an ambitious program this week in celebration of Easter. The dances will run for five nights, something that has not happened around here to the best of my memory since Stan Kenton played two weeks at Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland a thousand years ago. The dances begin tonight and run through Sunday night.
The first dance program is called "The Plains of Quicksilver" and is set for tonight and tomorrow night and offers the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Miller Blues Band and blues singer John Lee Hooker.
Friday and Saturday nights the dance program is called "The Ship of the Sea" and presents the Grateful Dead, Johnny Hammond and his Screamin' Nighthawks (their first appearance here) and satirist Robert Baker.
On Sunday there is a special Easter Celebration dance with the Quick and the Dead - the Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead.
(by Ralph Gleason, from the "On The Town" column, San Francisco Chronicle, March 22 1967)