Edmonton Eargasmic Extravaganza: ZPZ Plays The Big Empty

zpz pic

Dweezil and Company finished the North American leg of their tour in Edmonton last night to a small yet appreciative audience of diehard Zappa freaks (some of which who, by the way, have waited since 1971 for this chance to hear Frank Zappa’s music performed live again).

Mike Ross in his special to Sun Media:

It was clear what kind of concert this was going to be before the first note fell. Or at least, what it wasn’t going to be – a by-the-numbers rock concert.

It was more like a jazz show. From the opening of I’m the Slime, Dweezil and band pulled out insane arrangements like San Ber’dino and What’s New in Baltimore, threw in crazy-ass jazz romps like Filthy Habits, unleashed dad’s biggest bubble into pop culture, Joe’s Garage. A hopped-up crowd shouted out requests. Dweezil came off like a laid-back hipster – having inherited a knowing smirk – playing the role of the ringmaster instead of rock star, his guitar solos excepted.

7 Responses to “Edmonton Eargasmic Extravaganza: ZPZ Plays The Big Empty”

  1. urbangraffito says:

    An excellent three hour show. The highlight for me was “Filthy Habits,” which Dweezil confessed was the first time this piece had been performed live by ZPZ. Scheila Gonzalez’s saxophone playing in FH was also a highlight (being a sax player myself). Couldn’t tell who was having more fun, the audience or the band (what with Scheila Gonzalez and Ray White dancing and jiving across the stage all evening, or the two guys in the row ahead of me bopping back and forth in their seats, or my son next to me hooting and hollering in between playing sets of his imaginary marimbas). I confess, I hooted and hollered a few times myself (it’s contagious).
    The only drawback was the obvious visible sign of security. There was not going to be ANY dancing in the aisles at this concert. Back in the 80s, in Edmonton, the viewing of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels was banned because of Zappa freaks dancing in the aisles at the theatre and in front of the stage, causing some minor damage. Obviously, the memory of this event is still fresh…
    My only criticism, though, is of Joe Travers. Not his drumming. It’s his enthusiasm. All evening long he wore an expression of bored indifference, as though he were just doing his job and getting it over with. If I want to pay to watch someone bored with their job, I’ll grab the nearest public transit bus, not Zappa Plays Zappa.

  2. scott says:

    Well…
    I knew it would happen. After getting some experience
    and rehearsal time under their belts, the ZPZ is exploding
    on the mutha fucking scene!!! Red Balloons Poppin’!!!!
    I have seen them twice, NYC ’06 and Pittsburgh ‘ohhh seven’
    but I KNEW that this was going to be the best (and sometimes better)
    Frank Zappa Concert experience in more than a decade.
    Not for nothing, it’s really, REALLY very, very good.
    I don’t know. I’m just an old Zappa enthusiast.
    Whaddya want from me?

  3. scott says:

    PS…don’t forget what a great piece of music is Drowning Witch.
    Holy shit.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    1200 people from a city of over a million. Whaddya want from a town that figures Brooks & Dunn is the height of culture? Watch out fer them swarms of roaming rednecks, scott (I’ve heard that Montana is the only place one can hide out from them)!

  5. Hugh says:

    Alright Mike Ross, check this out.
    I have some problems with this article.
    “original Mother Ray White, a mother of a soul singer.” Ray White was never in “The Mothers”. Ray was part of Frank’s ensemble from the late 70′s through the 80′s, but was never part of a “Mothers” album. I do agree that Ray was a “mother” of a singer. And you can be sure that Ray White has soul, but I wouldn’t pigeon-hole him as a soul singer.
    “doing his anti-religious rap tune Dumb All Over” Was Frank anti-religious? I think Frank’s problem with religion, was with the hucksters who used the Bible as a tool to benefit themselves.
    It’s the interpretations of the religions not the religion itself. Frank warns us all, not to be fooled by these religious zealots. Can you say, “I have sinned!”
    “Most overheard song request? Titties and Beer. And that’s just the stuff we can print.”
    That was the most requested song?! Without Bozzio and so many other excellent songs, the folks in Edmonton should dig a little deeper into Frank’s vast catalogue. Frankly, I get the feeling the reviewer was just trying to fit in the phrase, “Titties and Beer”. Frank has stated that the “comedy/sex related” songs paid the bills & gave him the ability to work on more complex tunes that satisfied him to a fuller extend. Titties and Beer is not what Frank and his music were all about.
    “Frank Zappa had a dirty mind.” The dirt is in the mind of the beholder! I feel Frank’s approach on sex was similar to Kinsey. As long as no gets hurt, who’s to say what’s normal. Watch out! “The poodle bites. The poodle chews it.”
    Frank put a tremendous amount of work into his compositions. If you write an article about FZ you should put in some serious research time. There is already enough misconceptions about Frank.
    I do agree that Dweeezil is doing an excellent job. Long live ZPZ!

  6. urbangraffito says:

    A very good analysis, Hugh. As you know, we all know what FZ thought about music reviewers. Much of what Mike Ross said isn’t that surprising given the location of Edmonton right smack in the center of Canada’s bible belt (what better place to breed some diehard Zappa freaks?).
    During the show, quite a few Zappa neophytes called out requests for songs like “Titties and Beer,” “Dinah Moe Humm,” “Crew Slut” and “Yellow Snow.” Sadly, they were left very much disappointed if that’s what they came to Zappa Plays Zappa to hear. Myself, on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier with the selection that ZPZ played. It revealed not a “dirty mind” but a mind that was vast as it was musical.
    Viva Zappa! Viva ZPZ! Viva FZ!

  7. Hugh says:

    Hey Urbangrafito,
    I always enjoy your informed & well-thought out post, so I appreciate your positive feedback. Thanks.
    The Mike Ross’ of the world are put on notice that there are a lot of blog-crazed Zappa fans just waiting to right their wrongs. My advice to Mike & others is that they would benefit in getting to know Frank more by reading, “The Real Frank Zappa Book” or for a quick fix check out on YouTube: “Frank Zappa Interview 1988” in 3 parts. It’s the best interview of FZ I’ve ever seen. In part because Frank obviously wrote all the questions down for a Pa. State Trooper named Chuck, who reads them from a script(in monotone!). You will be blown away by his concise views on drugs/alcohol, politics & MUMMERS’! Frank gives it to you plain & simple. A must see for any teen or ageing-hipster. Viva Zappa! Viva ZPZ! Viva KUR!