Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Watch An Andy Warhol-Directed Velvet Underground Concert

Dustin Nelson/Prefix

While the Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground connection is well-documented, another artifact of that relationship and collaboration has surfaced. In 2008 the Warhol Museum uncovered a 33-minute film titled The Velvet Underground in Boston that was shot by Warhol.

The film premiered and was subsequently preserved by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but there hasn't been much out there about it since then. However, the footage, shot in 1967, has popped up on a YouTube channel with the following eloquent description:

This newly unearthed film, which Warhol shot during a concert at the Boston Tea Party, features a variety of filmmaking techniques. Sudden in-and-out zooms, sweeping panning shots, in-camera edits that create single frame images and bursts of light like paparazzi flash bulbs going off mirror the kinesthetic experience of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with its strobe lights, whip dancers, colorful slide shows, multi-screen projections, liberal use of amphetamines, and overpowering sound. It is a significant find indeed for fans of the Velvets, being one of only two known films with synchronous sound of the band performing live, and this the only one in color. It's fitting that it was shot at the Boston Tea Party, as the Beantown club became one of the band's favorite, most-played venues, and was where a 16-year-old Jonathan Richman faithfully attended every show and befriended the group. Richman, who would later have his debut recordings produced by John Cale, and later yet record a song about the group, is just possibly seen in the background of this film.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for some authentic, clean archival footage of the band, this isn't it. The sound was clearly tampered with by Warhol, creating a sort of noise pastiche of the band's set. It's difficult to tell what song is being played at any given moment. However, that doesn't seem inconsistent with the aesthetic of the Velvet Undergound and it creates a beautiful, noisey, warm blanket experience.

Watch the performance below and do it quick, this seems like the kind of thing that's just moments away from getting pulled off YouTube.

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