Feb 21, 2018

January 29, 1968: Portland State College, OR


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.

1 comment:

  1. Ironically, not only is the Dead's show from this night lost, they're also missing from this review since the reporter had to leave early! But at least we get a good review of Quicksilver's set.
    The writer is very impressed by them - "easily the strongest rock band to play Portland" - and I wonder what he would have thought of the Dead. Quicksilver took the first set - hard to say whether each band played one long set, or if they split up two sets like in Seattle; I also wonder whether the Dead closed all the shows on the tour.
    Like the Eureka article, the reporter is surprised by the expense & the amount of the gear. He also gives an unusually detailed description of the light show, a lot more precise than the typical "oozing psychedelic colors" account.

    The Oregonian, unfortunately, didn't run any follow-up articles on the Crystal Ballroom shows.
    The Vanguard (the Portland State College paper) ran a review of the Jan. 29 show, which McNally quotes: "phenomenal... Flash after flash, skyrockets, bombs... I've never seen anything like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane lightshow. [The music] was loud, loud enough that we didn't need ears. We could see and feel the music, it saturated the ballroom... [The Dead] kept hitting climaxes, bursting, sense-tearing climaxes, until on some magic cue they relaxed, dropped back to reality, stringing us along [until] another chain reaction of exploding box cars full of nitroglycerin." (p.249)
    It would be nice to find this full review! Any readers at Portland State?