Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moby Grape Performance History January-June 1968 (Moby Grape IV)

Moby Grape was one of the best of the San Francisco groups, but their never ending run of poor choices and bad luck has insured that they lead the woulda-shoulda-coulda category, with a long series of frustrations punctuating their career. Over the years, the nonetheless fascinating story of Moby Grape has been documented fairly comprehensively. However, there is no longer a good Moby Grape performance history on the Web, or at least not an accessible one, so I have constructed one for the years 1966-69. It was originally based on the one that was available on the web some years ago, but I have revised and added to it considerably.

My focus on this concert history is on Moby Grape's actual performance history, rather than an attempt to document their recordings or other aspects of the band's history. I have had to give some thumbnail information in order to make the history coherent, but I am aware that I am simplifying or leaving out many aspects of the band's history due to my narrow focus on concerts.

The Moby Grape Performance History will be in 6 parts (1966, early and late 1967, early and late 1968, and 1969). The history represents the best information available to me at this time. Anyone with additional information, corrections or insights into missing or incomplete performance dates please list them in the Comments or contact me.

Part I: 1966
Part II: January-June 1967 
Part III: July-December 1967
Part IV: January-June 1968 Performance History

January ?, 1968 Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston, MA Moby Grape/Travis Pike's Tea Party

The Psychedelic Supermarket was basically a parking garage with a light show, at 590 Kenmore, on Kenmore Square.  The sound of the ‘room’ was notoriously miserable.

Moby Grape was mostly recording in New York during January and February, while playing occasional gigs on the East Coast.

January 12-13, 1968 The Factory, Madison, WI Moby Grape/Buffum Tool Company
This date surfaced because a member of Buffum Tool Company (an Illinois band) kept a copy of the flyer.

January 26-27, 1968 Action House, Island Park, NY

Winter 68  [venue], Augusta, ME
Jerry Miller recalled a gig in Augusta, Maine. The ride back to New York was a scary drive over icy roads. Skip Spence drove one of the cars at 80 mph, his unique mojo somehow keeping everyone alive.

February 10-11, 1968 Anderson Theater, New York, NY Moby Grape/Procol Harum (2 shows)
 The Anderson was an old Yiddish Theater a block away from the Village Theater (the future Fillmore East).

February 14, 1968 [Gym], SUNY, Stony Brook, NY Moby Grape
A tape circulates with the date February 14, 1968, so it is plausible to think the group played the college on this date, although there is no other confirmation.

February ?, 1968 Gym, South Plainfield High School, South Plainfield, NJ Moby Grape/Drug Store
A Commenter reports seeing a memorable Moby Grape performance at the South Plainfield High School, but the exact date is uncertain. The old South Plainfield High School, located on 2201  Plainfield Ave, is now a Middle School.

February 17, 1968 Tempo Dance City, Brooklyn, NY Moby Grape
This venue is unknown to me.

February 23-24, 1968 The Cheetah, Chicago, IL Moby Grape
The Cheetah was the once and future Aragon Ballroom, at 1106 W. Lawrence.

March 15-16, 1968 San Francisco Sound, Seattle, WA Moby Grape/West Coast Natural Gas/Indian Pudding And Pipe
Former manager Katz, who had been fired in September 1967, had started his own ballroom in Seattle called The San Francisco Sound. It was the former Encore Ballroom, at 1214 E. Pike (at 13th). Katz had many complex dealings, and claimed to own the name Moby Grape, so this performance was probably a proxy Moby Grape put together by Katz, featuring Northwest area musicians. They mostly played obscure venues in the Northwest, to audiences who wouldn't have recognized the real Moby Grape.

March 15, 1968 American Legion Hall, Merced Moby Grape
This date is unconfirmed, but it legislates against the real Moby Grape having played Seattle. Update: a Commenter clearly recalls seeing Moby Grape at the Merced Legion Hall, so the Seattle show was surely the fake Grape. Its likely the real Grape played somewhere else on Saturday March 16, but I haven't determined where.

March 21-22-23, 1968 Winterland Moby Grape/Traffic/Lemon Pipers/Spirit (21st Fillmore)

March 29-30, 1968 The Cheetah, Santa Monica “Moby Grape”
The Cheetah was a popular discoteque and concert venue on the Santa Monica Pier.

This was the phony Moby Grape, featuring Seattle musicians, put together by ex-manager Mathew Katz.  Katz claimed he owned the name, and put together a group to tour as Moby Grape. They mostly toured the Pacific Northwest.

April 3, 1968 Winterland, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Electric Flag/It’s A Beautiful Day/Moby Grape/Mother Earth/Youngbloods  
KMPX-fm Strike Benefit

April 6, 1968   Selland Arena, Fresno Moby Grape

April 12-13, 1968 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco Moby Grape/It’s a Beautiful Day/Sweet Rush
The Carousel Ballroom (on Market and Van Ness) was the former El Patio Ballroom, managed by the Grateful Dead and other San Francisco bands to provide a venue not controlled by either Bill Graham or Chet Helms.  By summer, Graham had taken over the lease on the Carousel and renamed it the Fillmore West (h/t Ross for the scan).

Sometime in April, the band released their second album, Wow, which was packaged with a Super Session style album called Grape Jam. The public perceived this as overkill, and the album was unfavorably compared to the sensational first album.The Grape also began recording again.

May 2-3-4, 1968 Fillmore Auditorium Moby Grape/Hour Glass/United States of America
The Hour Glass were a Los Angeles band featuring Duane and Gregg Allman.

May 3, 1968 Merchandise Mart, Old State Fairgrounds, Sacramento  Moby Grape/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Troggs/Pyewacket
2nd Annual Simultaneous Avalanche
The Grape probably played in the afternoon in Sacramento, and made it back for Saturday evening's Fillmore show.

May 7-12, 1968 The Generation, New York, NY Moby Grape
This club on 52 West 8th Street would later become Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studio.

May 17-18, 1968  The Kaleidoscope, Hollywood Moby Grape/Hour Glass/Mt. Rushmore
The poster says ‘The Real’ Moby Grape, a reference to the March 29 Cheetah show.

May 22-23, 1968 La Cave, Cleveland, OH Moby Grape

May 24, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX Moby Grape/Shiva’s Headband (2 shows)
The Vulcan Gas Company (at 316 Congress Avenue) was Austin’s psychedelic ballroom. They may have played May 25 also--that's how the poster advertised them.

May 26, 1968 Catacombs Club, Houston, TX Moby Grape

May 31-June 1, 1968 Fillmore East Moby Grape/The Fugs/Gary Burton Quartet (2 shows each night)
Peter Lewis, angry at the band for various reasons, returned to Los Angeles, so the Grape played Fillmore East as a quartet. Shortly after these shows, Skip Spence had an episode where he lost touch with reality, went AWOL for a few days and ended up in the Psych Ward at Bellevue Hospital. The show at Fillmore East was Skip Spence's last appearance with the Grape until 1971.

June 6, 1968 Café Au-Go-Go, New York, NY  Moby Grape
This gig was scheduled, but the Grape may not have played it, since they returned home shortly after the Central Park gig. Other subsequent gigs throughout June seem to have been canceled as well.

June 7, 1968 The Limit, Howard Beach, NY Moby Grape
June 8, 1968 [venue], St. Louis, MO Moby Grape
I'm assuming these scheduled gigs were canceled, too.

June 25, 1968 Commodore Ballroom, Lowell, MA Moby Grape/The What Group

June 29, 1968 Wollman Skating Rink, Schaeffer Music Festival, New York, NY Moby Grape/Muddy Waters (afternoon)
Lewis returned to the band, but the Village Voice reported that the Grape played this show as a 4-piece, since Spence was not available.  Columbia must have flown the band back to NYC for the high profile festival, which began on June 25, but its strange that there were no other gigs around this time.

next: Part V July-December 1968


  1. I have never found a date for the Psychedelic Supermarket performance, but the support act were Travis Pike's Tea Party.
    Tempo City should be Tempo Dance City.
    Is it likely that the April 1 or 2, 1968 Palm Springs Pop Festival show was also the pseudo Grape?
    I don't think that there was a Selland Arena show in May. I think this went the way of the Quaker City Pop Festival that was scheduled with both Moby Grape and the Grateful Dead - both of who were in So Cal at the time.
    I am not sure which Central Park performance you are referring to, but I have a Central Park show on June 6, the same day as the Café Au-Go-Go show. They may well have skipped both - but my preference is for the four piece to play both shows. Would they have come back to play the Schaeffer performance on the 29th?

  2. Bruno and you made the same points about the Schaeffer Festival, so I changed it, as I'm sure my listing of June 29th was a mistake.

  3. After further investigation, I have changed my mind about the two shows on June 6. I am pretty sure both were cancelled (or played as a trio without Skip Spence and Peter Lewis - who had not played at the second of the Fillmore shows (June 1)). My preference now is for both the Central Park show and the Café Au-Go-Go show to have been cancelled. Ross

  4. It turns out there's a Village Voice review of the June 29 Schaeffer show. It mentions that Skip Spence was ill and the band was a quartet (per Marc S). So I'm taking the 6-7-8 shows as canceled, since Lewis was out of town and Spence indisposed, but CBS must have flown them back for Central Park.

  5. Schaefer Show: This is particularly strange as Peter Lewis had clearly not appeared on June 1 at the Fillmore East - then, once Skip Spence had been helping the NYC Police with their enquiries over the Don Stephenson hotel room incident, and subsequently started his period of "rest", Lewis returned to the West Coast. So it is pretty clear that if the band played the two proposed events on the 6th, it would have been as a quartet with Skip but without Peter Lewis, or as a trio (depending when on the 6th Skip was arrested). This then brings us to two other shows that Marc has listed - 7th The Limit, Howard Beach, and 8th in St. Louis. I wonder is these were scheduled then cancelled, or if the remaining trio played (which is plausible).

    This then brings us to a one off event on the
    29th - Shaefer Music Festival, Central Park NY w/Muddy Waters and then a respectable gap through late July where they appear at the Fillmore West. As Marc has found some evidence of the Schaefer show on June 29, it seems the best question I can pose is was Peter Lewis one of the Moby Grape who played? Ross

  6. I don't think there's much question that Peter Lewis returned to the group. I think the band was professional enough to just keep going, even if later they realized they may have been better off taking a step back and slowing down.

    The Schaeffer Festival was pretty high profile (particularly for such a lousy beer), so it makes sense that Columbia wanted them there. I'm assuming they were just flown out for the show, probably using rented equipment and with relatively little rehearsal, accounting for an apparently spotty performance.

  7. Hi. First of all thank you so much for this well researched list of Grape performances! I was at one of the Anderson Theatre shows in February(with Procol Harum) and fell in love for life with this band I had never heard of before.They were beyond incredible. Spence made himself the focus on stage with a manic grin but the others, though less showy, more than compensated with their stellar harmonies and musicianship. I saw them again in June at Central Park by which time Spence was in Bellevue(the news circulated through the crowd,somehow) and Mosley had cut his hair. Regardless of the Village Voice Review of a show on the 29th(unless I can read it and re-make up my mind) I believe this show was on the 6th of June.

    In any event, great site! Hope it expands to include other history. Thanks again

  8. various people pointed out that I left out the February 23-24, 1968 date at the Cheetah in Chicago, so I added it.

  9. I can personally confirm the March 15 1968 date in Merced and it was the real group. I talked with a despondent Bob Mosley before the show for some time.
    The show opened with the Flamin' Groovies. See the poster here:

  10. I personally saw the original 5-piece in South Plainfield, N.J. in early '68 at South Plainfield High School! I still have a piece of my ticket , which unfortunately is undated. The opening act was a local band called the Drug Store. Must have been around the time of the Feb, NYC shows, and it was before the 2nd album was released. I do remember that they were fantastic, and my old friend and I have fond but fading memories of this show. I have not seen this show mentioned before; I live in the next town over and tried to find info about this show, but no luck. That old High School is now the town's Middle School. I also remember them introducing "new" songs from the upcoming Wow album. Great list of shows, hope this can help a bit. Anyone else remember this show?!?

  11. Thanks for mentioning this. I updated the post. There are a lot of lost rock shows at High Schools and Civic Centers that are not recalled because there wasn't an arty poster to go with them.

  12. I was at the June 1st early show Fillmore East. I was sitting pretty far back in the orchestra, so I couldn't make out whether there were 4 or 5 people on staage. The Grape were very good, and closed (I think) with a very rousing "Omaha" that had everyone standing up and dancing in place at their seats. Wonderful evening.

    Also - performances by the Fugs were assembled by Warner Bros. and released on an album called "Golden Filth" about 1971.

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