Above all, the San Francsico Sound is the musical expression of what’s going down, a new attitude toward the world which is commonly attributed to ‘hippies’ but which could more accurately be laid at the feet of a non-subculture called people, earth people, all persons who have managed to transcend the superstructures they live in. People who have responded to the reality of the industrial revolution by requiring that they run the system and benefit from it rather than be made part of it. On very small print between the lines of ‘Naked If I Want To’, ‘Grace’, ‘Cream PUff War’, is written the following message: There is a man, me, and there are Men. These two forces will and must interact as smoothly as possible. Everything else — concepts, objects, systems, machines — must only be tools for me and mankind to employ. If I or Man respect a system or a pattern more than ourselves, we are in the wrong and must be set free. “Nothing to say but it’s okay…” -Paul Williams (Crawdaddy)
Page 46 Bobby and Phil, Ann Arbor, Michigan, August 13, 1967, free gig
History will show, I believe, that the San Francsico dance renaissance played a key role in the evolution of teen age schlock-rock into music, as well as a key role in the social-cultural and political revolution in which we are involved.
After the Trips Festival in Januray 1966, Graham took over the Fillmore, first alternating weekends with the Family Dog. Luria Castel and Ellen Harmon, the originals and the visionaries who saw what was needed had left the Dog and it then consisted of Chet Helms and John Carpenter. There had been a couple of other transitory Dog personnel involving, among others, Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin, now managers of the Grateful Dead.
Their instant success spun off into a myriad of benefits at every available place in the Bay Area. An incredible number of dances for fund raising purposes, for profit and for fun took place. It has been an unbelievable three years. The response to the dances was ecstatic. The floors leaped and tumbled and swirled with the dancers and the evolvement of light shows as an adjunct was spectacular.
It ought to be said, it seems to me, no matter what any individual may feel pro or con about either the way the Fillmore Ballroom has been operated or the man who operates it, that during the past two years the Fillmore and Bill Graham have brought an incredible list of great and important music and performers to San Francisco.
Now a struggle is going on between those who want to dance and those who want to listen. It repeats again the situation of the Forties in which the swing era dancers (the jitterbugs) became listeners, first crowding around the bandstand and then sitting on the floor and then demanding chairs. The Benny Goodman band was astonished when it first played the West Coast that the people pushed up to the lip of the stage to hear the trumpet player (Bunny Berigan). Eventually, of dances ceased almost altogether and the stage-show concerts took over.
The stiffness of the concert hall is a drag and the booze of the night clubs is a bigger drag and so the informality and the flexibility of the dance halls has been delightful. The problem is two-fold at the moment- the press of the crowd and the floor covered with people sitting and lying down. At some point in the near future, somebody will build a structure to house these shows which is designed for the new purposes. I don’t know what it will look like but it will obviously need to provide space for seeing and dancing, ease of movement and places to sit from time to time. -Ralph J. Gleason (Rolling Stone, 6/20/68)
Photos: All – Tom Copi