Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll: 5 ways to get psychedelic in San Francisco
It’s a trip
San Francisco's counter culture history hits the main stage this summer, for the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. Buro culture maker Noelle Faulkner rounds up the coolest ways to get your acid fix
It's true, the "Summer of Love" is plagued with cliché connotations: fancy dress party fails, imagery of spaced-out beings, less-than-sanitary living spaces and a lexicon of "groooovy" etc. Yet, we have a lot to thank the summer of 1967 and it's epicentre, San Francisco for - from rock'n'roll to people power, psychedelic art and far out ideas that, in-turn, were the kindling that sparked San Fran's tech and art scene and changed music forever. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane... And prior to that, the punk legacy of the Beat poets which started it all - Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and friends.
However, psychedelic counter culture and the influence of the late '60s extends beyond the obvious - without it, Steve Jobs may never have made Apple the forward-thinking brand it is today, sexuality and equality might still in the dark ages, Dumbo would be a very different film, and today's music festival template would not exist.
Celebrating 50 years since the "Summer of Love", aka the 1967 acid-fuelled, free love-centric youth culture phenomenon written about by literary heroes Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe which changed everything, the city of San Francisco and surrounds will this Northern American summer be bustling with late-'60s-related events, exhibitions, festivals, gigs, talks and tours.
So for those of a free love or rock'n'roller disposition, lovers of art and history or if you constantly complain you were born in the wrong era, take the trip and make a pilgrimage to San Fran, the birthplace of a certain right-brain creativity, left-wing ideals and open-ended consciousness. Tune in, turn on, drop out.
Attend a happening
The 1967 Monterey Pop Festival is the stuff made of music legend. It's where Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar, Janis Joplin went from being an unknown singer in Big Brother and the Holding Company to a star and the first outdoor rock festival that, thanks to now-legendary producer Lou Adler, would set the template of the Woodstocks, Coachellas, Splendour in the Grasses, Falls Festivals and Burning Mans of the future. So if you're in town in mid-June, consider the 2017 Monterey International Pop Festival. The lineup is yet to be dropped, but Adler is back in the chair, so expect two days and over 24 bands that nod to the OG acts of the time.
As part of the celebrations, San Francisco and nearby cities Berkley/Telegraph and the beautiful beachside Monterey, will be holding outdoor festivals, some free to attend. The Outside Lands Music & Art Festival is an outdoor fest featuring comedy, music, arcade games, mini golf and more and the SF Jazz Festival or the Fillmore Jazz Festival (which will this year be honouring musicians lost in 2016) are must-visits, just for the city's historic beat-jazz-coffee connection. There's even a special event on "Jerry Day," honouring The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. Beyond this, there are free concerts and much, much more.
Monterey International Pop Festival, John Phillips Memorial Main Stage, Monterey County Fair Grounds, June 16-18, summer67.com
The Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, August 11-13, sfoutsidelands.com
Stren Grove Festival free concert series, Sigmund Stern Grove, San Francisco, Every Sunday from June 25-August 27, sterngrove.org
San Francisco Jazz Festival, Miner Auditorium, SF Jazz Center, June 7-19, sfjazz.org/events/festival/2016
Fillmore Jazz Festival, July 1-2, Fillmore St, San Francisco, sresproductions.com/events/fillmore-jazz-festival
Jerry Day, Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park, San Francisco, August 6, jerryday.org
Trace the links of psychedelic modernism
Now showing at the Berkley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive is Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, a brilliant and thought-provoking art exhibition that traces the influence of hippie counter culture, the ethos of the late-60s, influencers and micro trends that shaped the era on everything from architecture to design, fashion, textiles, technology, art and gender studies. Fascinating and mind-opening.
Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, until May 21, Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, bampfa.edu
Peruse rock poster art and costume
Another fantastic art and fashion/textiles exhibition showing this summer is The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion and Rock'n'Roll exhibition showing at the de Young Museum, which looks at local San Francisco visual artists, fashion and textile designers, and poster artists and their influence on helping shape the style of the era. The de Young has the largest collection of fashion and textiles in the state, so this is a must for lovers of hippie-rock style.
The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion and Rock'n'Roll, April 15-August-20, de Young Museum, San Francisco, deyoung.famsf.org/exhibitions/summer-love
Surround yourself with flower power
Spanning a whopping 55-acres, San Francisco's Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park, just down the road from the iconic, bohemian borough and hippy epicentre Haight-Ashbury, is a wonderful way to escape the city, take a walk, lay on the grass or just chill out with a picnic. The regal-looking greenhouse, The Conservatory of Flowers building, a grand Victorian structure that looks over the park, houses butterflies and over 2,000 flowers to sniff. Of course, being a greenhouse, it's a lovely way to escape a chilly San Fran morning. During July, the city has dropped several pianos around the smaller flower gardens, so don't be shy to lay your hands on the keys or sing along with a stranger.
Get historical FOMO
Whether hippie culture is your bag or not, it's very hard to look back on images of Jimi, Janis, Mick, Keith, Jerry, Joni and the other rock'n'roll, free love and psychedelic icons of the '60s and 70s and not get some kind of FOMO that you weren't there to feel the vibrations yourself.... Well, the California Historical Society has made it easier with it's exhibit Summer of Love: A Photographic Journey, which is a highlight.
Summer of Love: A Photographic Journey, May 11-September 8, California Historical Society, califoniahistoricalsociety.org
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