The Saber-toothed Cat thrived from the Eocene Epoch to
the Pleistocene Epoch (a 42 million year stretch), and it's our hope that our Sabertooth
Festival, with its roots in Portland's own "psycheluvic epoch"* will survive as
While psychedelic music covers a range of styles and
genres, it is inspired by psychedelic culture and the attempt to replicate the
mind altering experiences that started in mid-'60s folk rock and blues. As
such, Sabertooth celebrates the historical role the Crystal Ballroom played
through previous half-century of psychedelic music.
In the late 1960s the Crystal Ballroom celebrated an era
referred to as "18 months of Psychedelia," and hosted mind expanding artists of
the day from Frank Zappa to the Grateful Dead.
While the modern Sabertooth Festival celebrates this history and shares
the same common thread of experimentation and the ability to transport the
listener to an altered reality, it is not a rehash of artists from a bygone
era; the psychedelic music of the 21st century is in fact very
different than what it was in the 1960s.
The Crystal's psychedelic cred includes notable nuggets
from rock and roll history:
the famous Peace Rites event at the Crystal in
the '60s, where Allen Ginsberg disputably first read 'Howl' (we celebrate his
fellow beats in the Joe Cotter mural in the room itself).
the Dead recorded much of their exploratory Anthem of the Sun at the Crystal
the forefather of the distorted and processed
guitar, Jimi Hendrix, played there as well
The Crystal has always been the nexus of this scene and McMenamins
has continued to program and promote music of this nature since its opening.
Those looking at psychedelia's earliest roots will also
see the Crystal playing a role. The first use of the word "psychedelic" in
reference to music was in reference to our friends and extended family, the Holy Modal Rounders (members of whom
will be performing at the Sabertooth event) of the East Village Freak Folk scene. Other key players of this scene were John
Fahey, who's last Portland show was with us at our St Johns Pub; Bert Jansch (Pentangle) who we have hosted on two occasions
in Lola's Room and the Rounders themselves who have performed multiple reunion
concerts at the Crystal Ballroom.
In the late 70s the new psychedelic revival featuring
bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, George Clinton and Fishbone... all acts who
have played the Ballroom. And as time moved on, the early 90s brought a "neo-psychedelic
" movement with the Elephant 6 collective, and the Crystal continues to host
their music (Jeff Mangum, Neutral Milk Hotel, of Montreal - and supporting the
Saturday night show The Minders).
The 21st Century lineage continues with such
bands as Tame Impala, Animal Collective and The War on Drugs, who in fact just
performed at the Crystal and whose early member/collaborator Kurt Vile headlined the inagural
event along with stoner rock doom metal pioneers Sleep in 2015.
Psychedelic music in its varying forms and styles is part
of the lifeblood of the Crystal Ballroom: we wouldn't be open today without it, and we
have continued to program it. Sabertooth is a natural extension of this, a full
blown celebration of the music where the Company and the Crystal , as our
predecessors , eternally presses Furthur ...
*from the Oregonian, March 3, 1967
- Interesting related Facebook page: