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home | Acid Test Chronicles | The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 9 - . . .
 

This is a One-of-A-Kind set of Used and Unused tickets for a Warlocks performance held at the In Room, in Belmont, Sept. 1, 1965. To my knowledge, these are the only surviving Warlocks tickets. From what I gathered about them from the original owner, they were made for a raffle that night. Each person who came through the door filled out their stub with their name and got entered to win something. What did they win? Who knows? Apparently, the owner bought a couple extra to take home and stash away with all his other early Warlocks collectables.
This is a One-of-A-Kind set of Used and Unused tickets for a Warlocks performance held at the In Room, in Belmont, Sept. 1, 1965. To my knowledge, these are the only surviving Warlocks tickets. From what I gathered about them from the original owner, they were made for a raffle that night. Each person who came through the door filled out their stub with their name and got entered to win something. What did they win? Who knows? Apparently, the owner bought a couple extra to take home and stash away with all his other early Warlocks collectables.

The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 9 - The Warlocks - In Room, Belmont, Sept. 1, 1965

   This is a very important night in early Warlocks history. It was the first time Bob Weir performed on acid, and he was the first member in the band to do so. This is where the Dead really started to learn to experiment with sound while playing high on LSD.
 
   "Tom Constantin recalled seeing the Warlocks in Belmont: "The In Room was a lounge in a hotel. Oftentimes there wouldn't be much of a crowd, which was okay because the band was woodshedding their material, and if you are going to embarrass yourself it is good that there are few people out there. When the Warlocks first started as a rock 'n' roll band they jumped in with both feet doing quintessential rock 'n' roll songs like 'Wooly Bully'. It seemed like a right-angle turn when Jerry went electric. It was a real different direction for him to go in."
   In actuality, however, it was not such a divergence for Garcia. Both he and Pigpen had heavy backgrounds in rhythm and blues, and Garcia easily made the switch from performing bluegrass and jug music to rock 'n' roll. The early band did a lot of Chicago blues with Pigpen singing lead vocals. Garcia explained, "When we first started the Warlocks I thought, 'Wow, Pigpen's this guy who can play some keyboards, some harmonica, and he's this powerhouse singer." As usual, with his wide-ranging musical interests, and penchant for adventure, Jerry wasn't scared to play a fascinating new style that was seemingly beyond whatever he had been doing.
   The Warlocks played six nights a week, five sets a night, for six weeks at the In Room, and it was there that they developed a unique brand of rock 'n' roll that would become nationally popular only when FM stations caught on and started playing long record cuts a year or so later. The usual path for emerging bands was to play bars and small clubs, and to play songs as they were played on the Top 40 stations -- three minutes and out. The hope would be to attract a following, and then to attract a hollywood-type promoter to manage them, book their dates, and get a record contract. Garcia, a determined noncomformist in other aspects of his life, was not about to take this slick approach to making it in the music business. He wanted to play his music, and he wanted to do it according to his rules. The Warlocks days as a straight rock 'n' roll band were short-lived, as Garcia noted: "[We] developed a whole malicious thing, playing songs longer and weirder and louder, man. For those days it was loud, and for a bar it was ridiculous. People had to scream at each other to talk, and pretty soon we had driven out all the regular clientele."
   The management apparently didn't mind how the band played, or perhaps they were just somewhat noncomformist themselves. The bartenders that they hired were also outlandish. As Weir noted, they added their own weirdness: "The bartenders were crazy; they were potheads and, like, we'd be playing and they'd line the bars with ashtrays, fill them with lighter fluid and then light them. The whole bar would seemingly go up in flames and the place would get pretty crazy for a minute, so we'd pick louder and more intense." It was no coincidence that it was at these gigs where the band first played music on LSD. Garcia reminisced, "We were playing in the bar in Belmont....One of those days we took it. We got high, and goofed around in the mountains....We went to the gig and we were all a little high and it was all a little strange. It was so weird playing in a bar being high on acid." -- Captain Trips - Sandy Troy - Pages 63-64


   "The Warlocks had found a home at a club halfway between Palo Alto and San Francisco in the town of Belmont. The In Room was a heavy-hitting divorcees' pickup joint, the sort of swinging bar where real estate salesmen chased stewardesses and and single women got plenty of free drinks. Draped with red and black as the color scheme, it was the kind of place that sold almost nothing but hard liquor.
   .....As O'Keefe saw it, the band would be okay for the first two of their five fifty-minute sets, but by the third, they'd be high, and by the fifth, they'd be "barbaric." But in some sort of mysterious tranference, they began to develop their own audience, and held their own, avoiding the management of the bar, except for Larry, their favorite bartender. Each night they'd show up with their equipment stuffed into Kreutzmann's Pontiac station wagon, set up, and get to work. One of the complications to their lives was that Kreutzmann and Weir were not only considerably but obviously underage. Bobby Peterson stole some draft cards that somehow passed muster, and the cops would look at the ID, chuckle, and warn them not to drink. O'Keefe swore that he did not pay off the cops, so such tolerance could only be ascribed to providence.
   For six weeks the Warlocks worked six nights a week, five fifty-minute sets a night, earning $800 weekly at most, and began to learn how to be a band. They surely didn't look like anyone's idea of the sort of group that would keep the booze flowing and the action hot.
   .....They began their run backing up Cornell Gunther and the Coasters, and for the first set their rhythm guitarist was a guy names Terry, who taught them the songs. It was not really necessary for Garcia, who loved the Coasters and knew their material. Weir took the slight in seeming good humor, watching Terry so closely that he not only learned the chords but absorbed unconsciously how to cue a band with the neck of his guitar as a baton. From then on, when he sang a song, he became the bandleader, a democratic development not common to most bands. "We knew Weir could cut it then," said Lesh. "And after that it went much better, of course."
   As the weeks went on, things began to get...stranger. The word "weird" derives from wyrd, "controlled by fate", and it was the Warlocks' fate to incline in the direction of strangeness. They would spend the day romping about the Peninsula high on LSD, come down, and go to the In Room to smoke pot and play. The songs began to get "longer and weirder and louder," Garcia said, and the early audience would run outside "clutching their ears." The bartenders loved it and wanted it louder. Larry was a striking man, six foot four, with a glass eye he'd take out on the odd interesting occasion. As the sets mounted and it grew late, he would fill the drain on the inside of the bar with lighter fluid, touching it off at a good crescendo. "So then he was our man," said Kreutmann. One night there actually was a grease fire in the kitchen, and after everyone evacuated the bar, Kreutzmann ran back in to rescue his kit, they put out the conflagration, and the band returned for the last set.
   ....."As their music grew more bizarre to the average listener, the atmosphere at the In Room  followed suit. "We were a bar band with abnormal features," said Weir, and there among the stewardesses would appear people with orange hair and feathers or Page Browning, of the Chateau gang, with face putty and paint distorting his ears, chin, and nose. The Warlocks began to write their first song, and it was definitely not "Satisfaction." The In Room was located quite near the railroad tracks that run up the Peninsula to San Francisco, and as the band grew more and more attuned to the schedule, they learned to play with, instead of against, the sound of the trains as they rumbled by. One day, going from somewhere to somewhere, they heard the Them song "Mystic Eyes" on the car radio, and a fragment germinated in their minds. Eventually, they locked it into the sound of the trains, and Caution: Do Not Stop on the Tracks was born. It was a long, modal ramble, really only an excuse to jam, with a fragmentary, half-improvised lyric by Pigpen about the "gypsy woman." It was not In Room material. By the end of October, it became clear that the In Room could get along without them and vice versa, and they brought the run to a close. As they packed their gear  into the Pontiac on the last night, the manager offered them a concensus professional critique of their act: "You guys will never make it. You're too weird." -- What A Long Strange Trip - Dennis McNally - Page 89-92

   "The first really nice gig was at the "In Room in Belmont, an underground hangout with a wet bar but with enough money to pay about a grand a week, which was something in those days, when Charlie Mingus was getting' $1100 for a week at the Jazz workshop.
   To the Warlocks, the In-Room was a haven. It was full of hard-swingin' middle-class airline stewardesses , hustling chicks, and slick-hair hat dudes who looked tough but dealt an inferior grade of dope. They loved the Warlocks, though. Crowds got bigger and bigger. The one-week contract worked into five and six weeks. The PA system blew out, but no matter. Things were good. They were actually paid under scale, and had to kick back some of the bread, but it was as much as any of them had seen in a long time.
   After that, it was frustration mized with joy. Autumn records was going strong. Their two big acts were Beau Brummels and the Vejtables. The Warlocks were happy to be together and later went back to the In-Room with the Coasters, and there was old reliable Larry, the bartender, shoutin' and singin' and providing dramatic visual effects by filling the gutter on the bar with lighter fluid, and at peak moments during GLORIA, he would touch it off, and Wooooosh! Larry also used to take out his glass eye and make it glow green, somehow. It would just light up. Incendescent green eyeball, right there on the bar.
   It was while the Warlocks were at the In-Room that Odduck got them up to the Matrix Club in the Marina to see a folk group with a hilarious name of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. The airplane were playing mostly acoustic instruments at the time, and the PA was an acoustically biased setup. The Warlocks, with all the amplitude, would have blown it out.". -- From The Grateful Dead - Vanguard of a New Generation - Hank Harrison - 128-29


   From Rolling Stone - Bob Weir: 
   It was at the In Room that the Warlocks not only found their voice as a band but began their long-running discourse with inner voices. They were swept -- no, they dived, in group formation -- into the vortex of the LSD culture that Kesey and his troupe of Pranksters were just beginning with their Acid Tests of psychoactive evangelism around the Bay area. At first, the members of the band (or at least most of them, much of the time, Weir excepted) had an unofficial policy of performing while straight (or relatively straight, after smoking pot and/or drinking) and tripping only offstage. Soon, they began to entwine their creative lives and psychoactive lives. In little time, the two were inseparable. "We got one night off a week," says Weir, "and every Sunday we'd go out and take acid, because that was just starting to come around. There were wooly freaks in the audience, and they were high, and we related to them -- got a kind of contact buzz off them. "Then, one night -- 
   "I guess I was the first guy in the band actually to take acid. I had some, I took it and went to the gig -- I think it was a Tuesday night at the In Room, and all the guys in the band were watching me to see if I was going to make it through the evening. 'Isn't that a little radical?' And I made it through the evening. It wasn't a good night or a bad night. There were some challenges involved, because I think I overdosed myself. I was profoundly disoriented, I'll tell you. But I made it through the evening. And so shortly on the heels of that, the rest of the guys figured, 'OK, if the kid can do it, we're good to go.' "Sometimes we'd freak out -- we'd plug in, try to play and just jump ship and come back later when we weren't peaking and give it another go, and it would work. The LSD gave us an insight, because once you're in that state of profound disorientation, you play stuff out of muscle memory that you're used to playing, but it will sound way different to you, and in that you'll find all kinds of suggestions of places to take it. Bit by bit, we'd follow those pathways. We were taking acid every week for a couple of months, and I think we learned what we were going to learn with that method in that couple of months. We learned in that time an important lesson, to try to step back from what it is you're playing -- not be there, to step back and let the song be itself. All we were there for was to be there to help the song, to do a few physical things to let the song happen, and the song would take care of itself."

   "For six weeks beginning in the fall of 1965, the band played five forty-five-minute sets (with a fifteen- minute break) per night, five nights a week, at a club for down-and-outers called the In Room in Belmont, a suburban town north of Palo Alto. "That's where we started getting a little out," Lesh says. "We'd play one song for forty-five minutes -- 'Midnight Hour,' by Wilson Pickett. We thought it was OK to do that, because the only people who were in there were people who were sitting at the bar drinking, and occasionally some people would come out and dance. I don't know if we drew people in or pushed them away. But I know that over that six weeks we really evolved our playing to a point where we could take it out and be free with it and just listen to each other play and find musical ideas and find whole musical structures -- in the ozone, as it were. "We borrowed it all from Coltrane. I started encouraging everybody in the band to listen to John Coltrane -- 'Check it out, see what these guys do.' They take one chord, the tonic chord, and just play all over it. 'We can do that too!' I wanted to make our music something really amazing -- I wanted it to be jaw-dropping and turn on a dime and do all of those things that I knew music could do, and nobody told us we couldn't do it. I shouldn't say 'I,' though -- Jerry was behind it the whole way." - The Rolling Stone interview   

   WENNER: When was the first time you played music on LSD?
   GARCIA: Uh, when we were, let’s see...we...oh, we were the Warlocks and we were playing in a bar in Belmont, we were playing this straight bar and we would do five sets a night, 45 on and 15 off and we’d be sneaking out in the cars smoking joints between each set and so forth. One of those days we took it. We got high, and goofed around in the mountains and ran around and did all kinds of stuff and I remembered we had to work that night. We went to the gig and we were all a little high and it was all a little strange. It was so weird playing in a bar being high on acid, it was just too weird, it was not appropriate, definitely wasn’t appropriate. - Rolling Stone Interview


   "We played three forgettable gigs at the Fireside Club, Big Al's, and the Cinnamon Club-A-Go-Go. Things looked up a little when we scored a "house band" gig at a place called the In-Room, across the tracks in Belmont, where we could play five nights a week. This sounded ideal to us because we had been slowly evolving a style of playing that was more extended than what was then, and now, considered by some musicians and all industry types to be the norm in rock music, even though the music that now defines that term was just then being born.
   .....I didn't have a practice amp at home, so I really was learning on the job, and we spent so much time playing together, in rehearsal and at gigs, that there wasn't time to practice by myself. When we weren't rehearsing, we'de drop acid and frolic around the woods behind Stanford, coming down just enough by gig time to play.
   We had also started to collaborate on some original material, since the general concensus was that we'd never evolve very far if we just kept covering other people's stuff. We had learned a lot from listening to the Rolling Stones, going so far as to cover some of their covers, and Bob Dylan's songs were a major source of inspiration, as well as material for our sets. Songs like "Mindbender", "The Only Time is Now", and "I Can't Come Down" were our first essays into collective originality. Alas, all of them were embarassingly amateurish, so they didn't last long in the repertoire.
   The gig at the In Room (Don't you just love these names?) took place during the band's most intense and rapid development to date. We started off with a two-week run, which was later extended to six weeks total. Playing five nights straight, five sets a night, we continued our explorations in scaling up our material in order to, to paraphrase Coltrane, "get it all in". We started to feel like a band, as opposed to a collection of individuals, as if we were onto something unique, something that hadn't existed previously in music. The band became more confident -- and played louder. We learned to trust each other -- and played longer. We learned to make music out of feedback, out of noise, if you will -- and the walls melted (or so it seemed).
   Our performances, however, became more coherent, and focused, even as we expanded our musical time-scale. It was at the In Room that we first played one song for an entire forty-five minute set -- in this case, Midnight Hour, " the Wilson Pickett R & B classic. We had started out by expanding tunes through extended solos, mainly to make them last longer since there were so few of them. Howover, the longer the solo, the less interesting it became to play to play the same material as background, so those of us who weren't soloing began to vary and differentiate our "background" material, almost as if we were also soloists, in a manner similar to jazz musicians. A good example of this technique is our version of the old Noah Lewis jug band tune "Viola Lee Blues," a traditional prison song. We electrified the song with a boogaloo beat and an intro lick borrowed from R & B artist Lee Dorse's "Get Out My Life Woman," and after each of the three verses, we tried to take the music out further -- first expanding on the groove, then on the tonality, and then both, finally pulling out all the stops in a giant accelerando, culminating in a whirlwind of disonance that, out of nowhere, would slam back into an original groove for a repetition of the final verse. It was after a run-through of this song that I turned to Jerry and remarked ingeniously, "Man -- this could be art!"
   ....."When we started the band, Billy seemed really straight, locked into the family-provider role. As we played more together, and as acid and music did their work, we all began to see another Billy emerge: the prankster leprechaun of the drums. He would drum irrepressibly on my shoulder as he sat behind me in Jerry's car, while chanting "Red-Rabbit! Red Rab-bit!" the name of the twenty-four hour Automastyle fast food kiosk we'd always hit on the way back home from the In Room, all of us nearly fainting from the munchies.
   ....."At the end of our tenure at the In Room, we were more than ready to move on. The music had developed, some promoters had come to see us, and the management there in Belmont had had just about enough of our aesthetic delinquency. As we were loading out the morning after the last show, Dale, the club manager, remarked, "You guys will never make it. You're too weird." We laughed insanely: You're right, we are too weird. What of it? Living in the moment as we did, we weren't even sure we wanted to make it in the world of pop music as it was then." -- Searching for the Sound - Phil Lesh - Pages 58-61