Thirty-five years of rock & roll hit the stage of the Centennial ballroom on Sunday night. The only band to be nominated for a Science Fiction Hugo award, Jefferson Starship demonstrated that SciFi influence as well as their trademark San Francisco sound. But the band wasn’t interested in demonstrating anything, or performing a normal concert. Rather, they threw themselves into the convention spirit, donning masks and bringing costumed conventioneers on stage. Nothing says Dragon*Con better than cancan dancers and stormtroopers shaking and shimmying with legendary rockers.
Marty Balin, co-founder of Jefferson Airplane in 1965, fronted the band for the evening, although dialog was at a minimum; he sang and played guitar. As the only original member attending Dragon*Con, the set was highly influenced by his presence. Balin-penned numbers were in abundance, but with an edge as twisting guitar solos (from lead guitarist Slick Aguilar ) were added to his traditional ballads.
The two hour event also included Airplane classics White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, and Volunteers, 70s Jefferson Starship hits Miracles and Ride the Tiger, and the science fiction themed Hyperdrive.
It was a great party enjoyed by all, but it did have an unusual ending. Aguilar had two real Atlanta police come up on stage and walk him off in handcuffs. It was an amusing way to end the night, particularly if you are familiar with the band’s long history, but many in the crowd missed the joke and thought it was an actual arrest. It caused the final applause to be a bit on the quiet-side, but it was an effective way to avoid unwanted encores.