The original Woodstock Music And Art Fair kicked off on this date in 1969, in a large farm located in Bethel, New York (which is technically about a half-hour southwest of Woodstock proper). And while much has been made and mythologized about the overwhelming feeling of peace and love that permeated through the 500,000+ sprawling masses that weekend, looking back on highlights from the festival has led me to some pretty poor musical performances (from both the smaller acts and the headliners) as well. And while, for most people, their overall experience at any music festival tends to be about far more than just the performances, ultimately that is what I'm drawn to and bother going to the large festivals for--great, memorable sets by bands that I love.
Here are some weak performances from the original Woodstock that I'm glad that I missed.
[jump] Sha Na Na, "Duke Of Earl"
These guys really never stood a chance, did they? From the quizzical looks on the hippies in the crowd to the awestruck appearance of the band themselves, this was a strange selection that didn't mesh at all with the overall vibe of the weekend, and still stands out as an awkward performance by a band that shouldn't have been there to begin with.
Jefferson Airplane, "Volunteers"
Most of their performance was a shambles (due to sound issues and too many drugs--see also "White Rabbit"), but this tepid version of the anthemic "Volunteers" stands out as the worst of the lot. It just never got of the ground, despite the unifying theme of the song itself, and the supportive crowd who were certainly the target market for this type of all-for one rallying cry.
The Who, "Pinball Wizard"
Roger Daltrey himself claims that his band's Woodstock set was the worst gig they ever played. And while a bad set by the Who is better than a lot of band's best efforts, you can tell by this clip that the quartet just weren't on the same page, and clearly sound a bit tentative and restrained.
Blood Sweat & Tears, "More And More"
While the energetic horn section really swings throughout this number, the insipid, flower-power laden vocals ultimately drags this track down, despite the best efforts of the band. They hit their stride a bit more emphatically on "Spinning Wheel," but this song never quite took off.
Incredible String Band, "This Moment"
This is just terrible, from start to finish. Thankfully, the clip is brief, but this hippy-dippy performance represents everything that I wouldn't have enjoyed about Woodstock.
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