Sometimes music can bring you a welcomed escape. The fluctuating sonics are enough to provide an imaginative journey away from your mind, body and soul. Film and cinema also have the transformative ability, and sometimes, these two forms can join together to provide the ultimate escape. This footage sees a film shot by none other than Andy Warhol featuring Velvet Underground & Nico for a truly trippy jam session.
Take yourselves back to 1966 and get lost in the world of the Factory as Velvet Underground & Nico channel their inner spirituality and let themselves go within the music. It’s some of the earliest footage of the band.
By 1966, championed by Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground were starting to grab a following among the musical elite of New York. Though the group would never sell many records, their influence not only on music that directly succeeded them but still to this day is undeniable.
That influence can be felt in every second of this clip as the band jam through a typically trippy session at Warhol’s Lower East Side residence known as the Factory. While the band, comprised of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker and the undeniably enigmatic Nico, continue to make their music, Warhol does his best to keep the frames interesting.
Whether he was just starting to find his feet with filmmaking or, indeed, he was legitimately a little bored, the pop artist continues to quicken things up, refusing to settle on the performance. He uses quick zooms and sudden extreme close-ups, experimenting alongside the band’s doom-laden sound.
That is the real beauty of the footage below. Not Warhol’s self-referential filming or the sardonic remarks one imagines emanating from him as he zooms but the music. For a band so deeply positioned within the alternative-pop spectrum, to hear the Velvet Underground jamming and noodling like real hippies is a curious thing, to say the least.
At just over an hour long, it can provide a welcome reprieve from the doldrums of modernity and offer up a taste of what New York was like as the summer of love approached. It’s unusual to hear garage rock in such a free-form spectrum, and it makes this essential viewing. Fan or otherwise.
As cops arrive, Warhol gives away the camera to Paul Morrissey and tries his best to intercept and calm them down. All the while the Velvet Underground provides the tunes.