January 21, 1966, begins the first Festival called “Trips Festival”, a three-day event, where the psychedelic and hippie culture meets at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. The event featured performances by the Grateful Dead and Big Brother & the Holding Company. It was a historical event in the evolution of psychedelic music.
The Trips Festival was the brainchild of author Ken Kesey, who was conducting “acid tests” — wild parties in the Bay Area that featured music, dancing, theater, strobe lights, Day-Glo paint and free access to LSD, which was legal at the time. He and writer Stewart Brand decided to take it to the next level and hold a three-day festival. More than 6,000 people filled the hall.
The acid test was held on Saturday, Jan. 22, featuring punch spiked with LSD. Tom Wolfe described the scene in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. “Lights and movies sweeping around the hall; five movie projectors going and God knows how many light machines, interferrometrics, the intergalactic science-fiction seas all over the walls, loudspeakers studding the hall all the way around like flaming chandeliers, strobes exploding, black lights with Day-Glo objects under them and Day-Glo paint to play with, street lights at every entrance flashing red and yellow, two bands, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother & the Holding Company and a troop of weird girls in leotards leaping around the edges blowing dog whistles.”
The Festival’s innovative mix of music, theater and light enjoyed by thousands of stoned hippies forecast what was to come as Trips Festivals were staged in other cities. Graham began to stage regular rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. San Francisco’s Human Be-In took place in January 1967. The Monterey Pop Festival followed in June and the Summer of Love vibe spread across the country. Wolfe and many others cite the Trips Festival as the catalyst.
Here you can see original film footage from the famous Jan. 21-23 1966 event
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