Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back to Berkeley

Got my tickets yesterday for Zappa Plays Zappa at the Berkeley Community Theatre August 20. It'll be great to go to a Zappa show there again. The last time was 1981.

I saw the "Call Any Vegetable" video on the ZPZ website. It's a surprising choice, that they replicate the Just Another Band From L.A. rendition of the song, right down to the accidental nuances of Flo & Eddie's vocal performances from long, long ago.

I do hope that the show isn't solely in "tribute" mode, re-doing all the songs as though they were frozen in time. Frank never did that – he changed songs around massively from tour to tour and night to night. Surely Dweezil is cognizant of that, and I hope the band injects some originality and spontaneity into the show.

Back in 1988, as Frank and the Most Unhappy Band You Never Heard In Your Life were touring, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. (later joined by Liza Minelli) did their "Rat Pack" tour. I'm a lot more tolerant now, but still, that type of music and their whole culture is anathema to me.

But what I really hated about that type of concert event was that it was just a Greatest Hits exhibition – a smirking run-through of past glories. Not that there's anything wrong with it, I suppose, when you're dealing with lounge music. But with Frank's repertoire, I'd not even consider approaching it that way, and neither would Frank.

That said, I'm going to go with an open mind. Even if they do ultra-familiar versions, it'll still be the best FZ tribute band ever.

So, for the Aug. 10 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, I'll play radically different versions of FZ songs – ones that Frank morphed massively between studio and live performance, including "Call Any Vegetable," "Tell Me You Love Me," "Trouble Every Day," "Zoot Allures" and whatever you, today's concerned Frank Zappa fan, might suggest.

1 comment:

Tim C said...

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with ZPZ. I don't think they're slavishly recreating the recordings, but I won't argue that they're a Frank Zappa show, either.

There are plenty of spaces for improv, and they have fun in those spaces. ("Dupree's Paradise" at Indianapolis was pretty wild.) But I'm stunned to be able to see (and hear) some of these pieces played in person by real, live human beings. That's what made the two shows I've seen so far worthwhile for me.