July 17, 1968
at Autostade, Montreal
|Date||July 17, 1968|
|City||Victoriatown, Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
By WILDER PENFIELD Ill
Many months ago, radio station CFOX teamed up with East\West Productions to plan the First International Pop Festival for last Wednesday at the Autostade.
When arrangements were completed, contracts had been signed with The Procol Harum, The Who, The Troggs, Mitch Ryder, The Ohio Express, The People, and at least six local groups. The CFOX disc-jockeys would emcee the show, scheduled to run non-stop from 2 p.m. to midnight.
Up until 2 p.m. that is how the promoters thought the festival, believed to be the largest international pop show to come to Canada, would work out.
And ultimately, the show proved to be a success, but it may have taken years off the potential life span of both promoters and emcees.
How it worked
In part, this is how it actually worked:
2:30 p.m.: The stage still requires a little work. The electronic equipment is dying of peculiar electrical diseases. A couple of groups are missing. The Autostade is hotter than the hinges of hell. The fans are restive.
Deejay Charles P. Rodney Chandler, one of the (C) FOX masters of ceremonies, stimulates the audience with a critical lecture on what is wrong with the Montreal pop scene: "The problem is there’s no love in Montreal; I’ve been here for an hour and the only couple I’ve seen holding hands are those two guys up in Row 44."
2:50: The Montreal-based quintet, "The Our Generation," begin their segment, including their single, "I’m A Man." The microphones give out one by one.
They are immediately followed by the frenetic local group, "The Haunted."
4:05: (C) FOX deejays admire each other, introduce Andy "Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby" Kim.
4:10: The Ohio Express have arrived and play a set, featuring their rendition of the most vulgar song on the current Hit Parade: "Yummy Yummy Yummy."
Worse and worse
4:40: The Mozart Group from Saskatchewan perform a wide variety of songs. They may have the best lead vocalist so far, but it is hard to tell; the sound is getting worse and worse.
5:30: Mitch Ryder performs, accompanied by two guitars, drums, organ, trumpet, trombone, and tenor and baritone saxophone. He does things with his voice that shouldn’t happen to a calliope; his infectious enthusiasm in "C.C. Rider," "Devil With the Blue Dress On," and "Sock It To Me, Baby," in particular, and the rhythmic dancing of his band bring the audience back into the spirit of the festival.
6:15: Missing groups are anxiously awaited.
The Troggs rouse the audience with their characteristic, wide-legged pump and grind. They sing "Wild Thing,"
"With a Girl Like You", and similar frankly erotic songs that have made them one of the world’s best-paid groups.
8:05: The Who put on a real show, combining everything that has made them perhaps England’s third most popular group, especially the microphone spinning of lead singer Roger Daltrey, the pinwheel action on the guitar by Pete Townshend, and toward the end, the destruction of the drums by Keith Moon.
Daltrey gives another explanation for one of the missing groups: "Too bad about the Procol Harum — they got busted." This is a humorous remark under the circumstances.
8:35: End of the first half.
8:45: Grapevine ‘has it that The People have not been allowed across the border; grapevine also supplies predictable reasons. The Ohio Express are missing. The Troggs are asked if they will open the second show; they are still dripping from the first performance and are not keen.
8:50: A new set of backstage problems. They say some Autostade officials are claiming the show has to end at 10:30 rather than at midnight. Someone feels that it is too dangerous to continue the show with an estimated 6,000 spectators and no lights.
9:05: Emcee George Ferguson keeps the audience awake, like a camp counsellor, leading bronx cheers for "the fuzz" as they insert themselves between the stage and the audience.
9:10: The Haunted are called back into action; on the better amplification provided by’ The Who, they sound much more impressive.
9:30: The Troggs return. On the stands behind them is an audience-participation Dance of the Seven Veils.
10:20: Mitch Ryder does a second set. His group sounds more like Glenn Miller’s orchestra in parts this time.
10:55: The Ohio Express return. It becomes popular to practise hitting the stage with some of the innumerable projectiles to be found on the stadium floor. Some of the shots are better than others.
‘Pictures of Lily’
11:10: The Who make the scene. They play "Pictures of Lily." Someone has told Roger Daltrey that their section of the show should be kept to half an hour; he announces to the audience in so many words what they can do with that idea. The audience cheers. They play "Happy Jack." The drum- sticks start flying. They perform their "mini-operetta," a good satire and a vehicle for some belly dancing by Roger Daltrey in his silver pants.
11:35: For some reason, the main lights go on. The Who work themselves up into a frenzy and begin their ritual of destruction, smashing their guitars, tearing up the stage and dumping the sections onto the drums. But suddenly the impetus seems to die and the show is over.
11:50: The Autostade turf looks like a horticultural centre dedicated to growing new, exotic kinds of paper. The people have been herded out.
The promoters announce that the Autostade has charged them $1,000 for care and grooming of the trampled field plus $500 an hour I or the time after 10:30 plus $200 for the use of lights at the end. Next year, they say, the Second International Pop Festival will be much bigger and better. But it will be held somewhere else in Montreal.