In February of 1975, Gentle Giant was the opening act on that strange Alvin Lee "African Experience tour" or whatever you want to call it; they played a gig in my hometown of Fresno, CA on a Saturday night. Being the big fan that I was by then, I went down early to the concert venue (Warner's Theater) and got the first spot in line. I got to see the group as they walked in for their sound check.
A little while later a few of my "hardrocking" buddies showed up with tickets to see the show; now you have to remember that Fresno in those days was a hard-rocking kind of town, with groups like ZZ Top or Ted Nugent always drawing the big crowds, as opposed to a group like Gentle Giant, that almost nobody had heard of in that area.They finally let us in about an hour before the show and we had the best seats in the house. I told my friends a little about GG and what to expect music-wise, but they didn't seem to be too coherent (big surprise!) and I let it go at that.
Gentle Giant then opened up the show with "Proclamation" from the Power and the Glory album which they were promoting on that tour. As the show progressed along, I noticed that many of the folks in the audience didn't know what to make of those guys -- or their music -- they just couldn't figure them out. The crowd wasn't booing or anything -- they were just completely befuddled!
About halfway through the show, I noticed that my friends sitting beside me were definitely on something a little heavier than just the usual alcohol/smoke mix that we ascribed to in those days. I asked one of them if he was okay and he muttered something about some good acid he had taken that night. I immediately thought to myself that GG was going to be too much for these guys and sure enough, just after that, things began to turn a little bizarre! Ray Shulman had begun to take notice of my "spaced out" friends and was beginning to exhibit some clever facial expressions directed towards them as he strummed his guitar; I couldn't help but feel sorry for my buddies as they squirmed in their seats while Ray serenaded them on a "little mindtrip!" I was laughing so hard that I had to get up and go outside for a few minutes to regain some composure. When I returned, the show was about over, and as the band finished their set, they left to a fairly good ovation from the crowd, who moments earlier had been completely unsure of what to make of that strange-sounding group.
Needless to say, we all walked out about halfway through Alvin Lee's set, preferring to savor the GG experience. That was the only time I was able to see the group in person; they did open for Peter Frampton a year later at the larger arena in town, but were apparently booed mercilessly by the teenyboppers there to see the main act -- glad I missed that show!
My friends always remember that GG show when I mention it to them, but seem reluctant to discuss it for some reason -- I wonder why?