Sunday Morning: Watch ‘The Velvet Underground in Boston,’ directed by Andy Warhol


Much of the news surrounding the Velvet Underground in recent weeks has centered around Macaulay Culkin’s pizza-themed parody band the Pizza Underground, so let’s wash that stale taste out of our mouths with 33 minutes of musical Listerine. The Velvet Underground in Boston, a sonic-freakout live clip of the band’s performance in 1967 at the Tea Party, then located at 53 Berkeley Street in the South End, was suddenly posted to YouTube last week.

Previously, only minutes of the show had been available to the viewing public. According to Spin, the film “was uncovered by the Warhol museum in 2008, before being premiered and preserved at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2010.”

The Velvet Underground performed several shows at the Tea Party in 1967, including sets in May, June, and August. Details on this video don’t specify which Velvets show the footage was taken from.


That’s not the only uncertainty about the film.

More from Spin: “It’s tough to pick out what song the band is playing at any given moment, especially since Warhol appears to have meddled with the audio in post-production, but it’s still a compelling relic of the mind-altering scene,” Spin writes. “Warhol uses a lot of in-camera tricks to play up the strangeness of the footage, but between the disorienting zooms and strobe-like edits, the documentary becomes a striking parallel to the band’s prickly noise blasts.”

Check it out below, before it gets pulled:

[embedvideo id=”6P7mJslbPPE” website=”youtube”]

Here’s the description that accompanies the YouTube video:

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.

And here is an undated show flyer for the Velvet Underground playing the Tea Party…

Velvets Tea Party