Saturday, December 26, 2009
Moby Grape Performance History January-June 1968 (Moby Grape IV)
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 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