The Velvet Underground Live: Two Clips to Check Out

Some bands are harder than other than others to find some decent live footage of. I've been looking for those elusive clips of the Velvet Underground playing live, specifically from their time with Andy Warhol, for a while. I'm pretty sure it exists and have seen some online, but nothing of too great a caliber till recently (then again, I don't spend all day looking for clips so I'm sure some have eluded me).

Today though, I happened to stumble upon a couple of clips of this band. As you probably know if you follow the Soul of Rock 'n' Roll regularly, they're one of my all time favorites and so I was pretty psyched. The first I believe is a bit of the experimental video used with the band during their time with the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, aka the performance art show with Andy Warhol. The band is playing one of their best songs in my opinion: "Venus in Furs".

Some of the comments on Youtube with this video seem to point towards it being from a show right here in Chicago, from back in 1966. It's a little cut off, but I still think it's an interesting piece of the band's history. It's a far more stripped down version of the song than appeared on album, which is definitely interesting to hear. The experimental video is a good hypnotic representation of the music, but I find it interesting more as a period piece indicating where the art scene and music scenes were at the time, as well as a good comparison between East Coast and West Coast drug scenes in the 1960s. West coast psychedelia was more geared toward enlightenment and positive ideas with LSD, while the east coast scenes were far darker and somewhat focused on death with amphetamines. If you're used to seeing more of the early psychedelic images from this time period, this is an intriguing contrast.

The second clip is closer to the end of the band's career in the 70s, this is from '72 I believe, and is of another great song in heroin, but done acoustic. Special thanks to Youtube, moien54 and Joeninety22222 for both these clips.

Recorded in Europe according to who uploaded it, this acoustic version may have came about during the time the band had it's amplifiers stolen, but I'm not sure, so it might also just be a different version they were doing live at the time. It's definitely interesting to check out because acoustic this song takes on a different character than the album version. I always described the album version as sort of eschewing much like you'd expect a heroin high to feel, as if you were stepping inside the mind of the addict. It sounds far sadder and even more confessional without the electric edge and the slightly different tempo/vocal inflections. It's a great song no matter what though and getting to see a slightly different take is great to see.

I've been intrigued to see some footage of this band playing live for a while. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to find some, but I enjoyed both these clips and have found a few more online as well that are worth checking out. These two also serve as a good contrast and insight into the different aspects of the band when shown side by side like. The first sort of representing their experimental and avant garde side while the second is their confessional songwriter side with it's more direct, rough footage of the band.

Both sides are a big part of why I'm such a fan of the Velvet Underground and keep coming back to discuss their music over and over again. Great to see some live footage... I'm sure to keep my eye out for anymore.


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