Fifty years ago this month, visitors to the YMHA in Philadelphia were expecting to see an art exhibit by Andy Warhol. Instead, they were treated to a “mixed-media discotheque,” with avant-garde films, dancers, strobe lights and music by The Velvet Underground.”
“It was a very loud concert with music that was unlike any that was being made in rock or popular music at that point, with lyrics about sex, drugs and rock and roll,” explains Richie Unterberger, author of White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day. “It also brought in concepts of contemporary composition, the avant-garde and fierce electronics.”
The same venue, now known as the Gershman Y, is currently exhibiting photographs from the event by the late Philadelphia photographer Sam Moskovitz, and will present a talk by Unterberger, “Visions of the Velvet Underground” and a concert by Yo La Tengo, who portrayed the Velvets in the film I Shot Andy Warhol.
Richie Unterberger spoke with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. Listen to their conversation below.