This week saw the release of a 45th anniversary reissue of The Velvet Underground’s self-titled third studio album featuring various unreleased recordings and performances. Now, another piece of VU history has surfaced, as the only known color footage of the band in concert is streaming on YouTube.
As OpenCulture points out, the 33-minute film was recorded in 1967 by frequent collaborator Andy Warhol. An accompanying YouTube description notes:
“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.”
The setlist includes “I’m Waiting For The Man”, “Guess I’m Falling In Love”, “Run Run Run”, “Heroin”, “Walk It & Talk It”, “I Heard Her Call My Name”, “Venus In Furs”, and “Sister Ray”.