Watch The Velvet Underground Perform in Rare Color Footage: Scenes from a Vietnam War Protest Concert (1969)

There are many rea­sons to think of The Vel­vet Under­ground for­ev­er in black and white: Nico’s Nordic monot­o­ne; John Cale and Moe Tucker’s mono­chro­mat­ic drones; Lou Reed’s per­pet­u­al invo­ca­tion of rock and roll’s black and white 50s ori­gins. White Light/White Heat and its stark black-and-white cov­er; “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” from their debut; pal­lid, sun-starved faces and a pen­chant for black sun­glass­es; an indeli­ble asso­ci­a­tion with Warhol’s black and white Fac­to­ry scene….

Then there’s lit­er­al­ly the fact that we’ve almost aways seen the band filmed and pho­tographed in black and white, until now. “Yes, you read that right,” announces Dan­ger­ous Minds, “pre­vi­ous­ly unseen col­or film of the Vel­vet Under­ground has been dis­cov­ered!” and boy is it groovy.

Always walk­ing an avant-garde line between pro­to-punk and psy­che­del­ic folk/rock, this footage from 1969 seems to catch the band lean­ing in the lat­ter direc­tion for Dal­las Peace Day, a Viet­nam War Protest held on the grounds of the Win­frey Point build­ing over­look­ing White Rock Lake.

“There were like­ly between 600 and 3,000 peo­ple in atten­dance,” and the per­form­ers that day includ­ed Lou Rawls and groups like Vel­vet Dream, Stone Creek, and Bradley & David. “The VU were in town for a week of shows at a Dal­las club.… These were the first con­certs they ever played in the south. It’s unknown how the group became involved with Dal­las Peace Day.” They were a band in tran­si­tion. Bassist Doug Yule had recent­ly tak­en over for the depart­ed John Cale. They were leav­ing behind their Warhol/Nico/Factory days.

The unearthed film here includes some per­for­mance footage, at the top. The band plays “I’m Wat­ing for the Man,” “Begin­ning to the See the Light,” and “I’m Set Free.” There’s also an inter­view with Ster­ling Mor­ri­son, who talks about the “tone of anar­chy” at New York anti-war ral­lies and the vio­lence in Chica­go the pre­vi­ous year. Above, see some silent B‑roll and below, a lit­tle more footage, with some unre­lat­ed, over­dubbed music. All of this film comes cour­tesy of the G. William Jones Film & Video Col­lec­tion.

The footage “was uncov­ered only by chance and the archive doesn’t know the orig­i­nal motives for record­ing it, or even know how they came to obtain the film.” It’s a side of the band we don’t often see. While hard­core fans may be famil­iar with the post-John Cale—and post-Lou Reed—years, most peo­ple tend to asso­ciate The Vel­vet Under­ground with black leather and white… um… sub­stances… not pais­ley and peace ral­lies.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Andy Warhol Explains Why He Decid­ed to Give Up Paint­ing & Man­age the Vel­vet Under­ground Instead (1966)

Watch Footage of the Vel­vet Under­ground Com­pos­ing “Sun­day Morn­ing,” the First Track on Their Sem­i­nal Debut Album The Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico (1966)

Hear Lost Acetate Ver­sions of Songs from The Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico (1966)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.