The Grateful Dead's concert at The Matrix in San Francisco on December 1, 1966, was a pivotal moment in the band's history. It was one of their earliest performances and marked the beginning of their association with the San Francisco music scene, which would become an integral part of their identity.
The Matrix was a small, intimate club located on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. It was known for hosting up-and-coming musicians and had become a hub for the city's burgeoning counterculture movement. The Grateful Dead had just formed earlier that year, and they were eager to make a name for themselves in the local music scene.
The band's lineup at the time included Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan on keyboards and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass, and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. This lineup had only been playing together for a few months, but they had already developed a unique sound that blended elements of folk, rock, and blues.
The Matrix show was a low-key affair, with only a handful of people in attendance. But the band played with the energy and enthusiasm of a group playing to a packed house. They performed a mix of original songs and covers, including "Viola Lee Blues," "Cold Rain and Snow," and "I Know You Rider."
One of the standout moments of the concert was when the band played "The Other One," a song that would become a staple of their live shows for years to come. The song's extended improvisational sections allowed the band members to showcase their musical skills and explore new sonic territories.
Despite the small turnout, the concert was a critical success. It helped establish the band as an up-and-coming force in the San Francisco music scene and attracted the attention of local music journalists and industry insiders.
The Grateful Dead would go on to play many more shows at The Matrix over the next few months, and the club became an important part of their early history. It was a place where they could experiment with new songs and ideas, and where they could connect with other musicians and members of the counterculture movement.
The Matrix shows also helped the band develop their live sound and performance style. They began to incorporate more improvisation and extended jams into their songs, creating a unique live experience that set them apart from other bands of the time.
The Grateful Dead's association with the San Francisco music scene would continue to grow over the next few years. They became regulars at the city's famous venues, including the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom, and became one of the leading bands in the emerging psychedelic rock scene.
The band's influence on the San Francisco music scene and the wider counterculture movement cannot be overstated. They helped create a new musical genre that combined elements of rock, folk, and blues with improvisation and experimentation. They also embraced the ideals of the counterculture, promoting peace, love, and unity in their music and their lives.
The Grateful Dead's concert at The Matrix on December 1, 1966, was a turning point in their early career. It helped establish them as an up-and-coming force in the San Francisco music scene and set them on a path to becoming one of the most influential bands of all time. The show was a testament to the band's talent, creativity, and commitment to their craft, and it remains a cherished moment in their history.