Sep 10, 2013

January 17, 1968: Carousel Ballroom, SF


Saturday night's show at the Berkeley Community Theater [1/20/68] is a fine start in the direction of the bands taking over their own productions. Country Joe & the Fish did the whole thing and they came through well. The Congress of Wonders did a marvelous set, appearing on the rising stage and doing their "O Feel This Unchained" satire on the Haight-Ashbury and the generation gap to the audience's delight.
The band was good but not the best I have heard it, and the light show was not by Jerry Abrams' Headlights as advertised. I don't know who did it, but it was restricted considerably by only one screen to work on, and the use of the dancer in silhouette behind the screen was good but overdone.
The dance earlier in the week at the Carousel with the Grateful Dead, The Quicksilver, and the Abrams Headlights was a great success and one of the grooviest evenings in some time. The Dead are in excellent form and the Quick are at their best now, having just finished their Capitol album. Jerry Abrams' light show was first rate. For the opening set of the Dead, he ran a long sequence of film loops concentrating on eyeballs that was in perfect synchronization to the music and one of the most effective devices I've seen. Robert Nelson's award-winning film on the Dead was shown in the intermission and is intriguing, a montage, impressionistic visual extension of the sound track.
The Carousel is a great ballroom (it's the old El Patio at Market & Van Ness) and the bands will return there in mid-February again. Meanwhile, they are now touring the Pacific Northwest (they played to 2,000 people at Eureka Saturday night).

(by Ralph Gleason, January 24 1968)

(The rest of the article was about a poorly attended Aretha Franklin show at the Oakland Auditorium on Sunday 1/21.)

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1 comment:

  1. Though short, this review is notable for paying as much attention to the visual show as the music. Jerry Abrams' Headlights were doubtless absent from Country Joe's show because they were off on tour with Quicksilver & the Dead.

    Also note that Robert Nelson's "Grateful Dead" short film was shown in the intermission at their show - I wonder how often that was done?

    The Dead weren't running the Carousel Ballroom yet; it was still being occasionally rented from owner Bill Fuller for rock shows, but they probably had their eye on it already. Gleason notes that now "bands are taking over their own productions."

    The Congress of Wonders was a comedy duo; you can hear the "Opheelthis Unchained" skit at (see track 15 for the 'generation gap' bit).
    A few years later, Garcia would be seen laughing at their "Pigeon Park" skit of Jerry & Phil as wasted old men on a park bench...