Sep 5, 2018

June 28, 1967: Oakland Auditorium, Oakland CA


Last night at the Oakland Auditorium my incredulity at the patience of a teen-age audience hit an all time high.
The Oakland event appeared, on paper, to be the best rock concert of the season, with the Young Rascals heading a high quality bill.
Scheduled for 8:15, absolutely nothing happened on stage until 9:20 when a disc-jockey m.c. lamely commented that there were amplification difficulties. No one, naturally, heard his remarks.
By 9:30 the Sons of Champlin tried to get going, but with no vocal mikes in operation it was a lost cause. They finally knocked off a straight instrumental ad-lib blues and split.
Another panic button was hit backstage, the audience passively hung on, and by 10 p.m. Country Joe and the Fish launched their usual barrage. Someone had cleverly deduced that the auditorium's sound system might be used. It was, although the balance was wretched for the rest of the concert.
Meanwhile the Bob Holt light production crew, projecting abstractions from backstage onto a fine mesh curtain, found that the Young Rascals' organ amplification boxes had been piled like a Stonehenge right in the projectors' line of sight.
The Rascals refused to move anything, the curtain didn't capture the visuals adequately, and Holt's artistic efforts (although of the most consistent quality of anything on stage all night) were pale representations of what might have been.
After another typical 15 minute scuffling on stage with cords, mikes, instruments, and workmen careening into one another, the Grateful Dead ploughed through a pedestrian set.
Bill the Drummer squashed a hole through his bass drum head (occasioning another delay) and Phil Lesh made pertinent comments regarding the debacle in which the audience and performers had become involved.
Pigpen's "Good Mornin' Little School Girl" came through the electronic haze well enough, although his organ was incomprehensibly mushy. Pigpen is now wearing his hair pulled back, with an old-style Admiral's fore-and-aft hat with Robin Hood feather locks.
By 11:30 producer Bill Quarry had taken over the mike, explaining that there had been more problems at this one concert than he had ever before experienced. He laughingly said it might be "the latest concert in the history of Oakland," and launched into announcements of his future presentations.
Virtually all the concert's faults could, of course, have been eliminated had the show been properly produced in the first place.
The Grass Roots were still assembling equipment at 11:40. Quarry announced that there would be an intermission (!) after their set, and this reviewer left without discovering if the Young Rascals ever got groovin'.
It is astonishing that teen-agers and their parents (dozens of whom were pacing the sidewalk) continue to support such fiascos.

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 29 June 1967)

1 comment:

  1. Not every show was golden!
    The Dead weren't on the poster for this show, but replaced Sparrow at the last minute, and were placed on the show program (as the "Greatful Dead"). This was a typical teen program for a time, with each band given 30-40 minutes to play, and the Young Rascals the most popular band on the bill. (The intermission before the Rascals at the end was actually scheduled.) The Dead may have been irritated by the sound problems, with a "pedestrian set," Bill breaking his drum, and Phil complaining to the crowd. Naturally Pigpen played Schoolgirl for the juvenile crowd.
    I noticed that Elwood was extremely informative about the events onstage, but doesn't say a word about the audience except that they were patient. He's outraged that they'd "support" such a badly-produced show, but what were they going to do, riot? Go home before the Rascals came on?