Dweezil Zappa in Richmond: (Ride My Face To Virginia)
Another phenomenal performance from Dweezil and the gang last night, I am still buzzing off the music and getting to meet the band after the show. I guess I should start at the beginning of the concert with a few songs off the “Freak Out!” album, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While “Freak Out!” is certainly not my favorite album, by any means, I fully see the merit and importance of this seminal work. 50 years ago this album was very ahead of its time and as Dweezil said last night, “It is still very ahead of its time.” The youthful influences of Frank Zappa can be heard in “Freak Out!” From his 50s-60s pop music satire, to heavy-abstract chord structures, all rolled into a strange and dissonant package.
The show really starts with “Inca Roads” for me, the band always plays this one when I see them live. It is my favorite Zappa song and I welcome it at any time,I just truly wish there was a marimba player, really missing Ruth when they play this one. “Black Napkins” always gets me going and when they transition straight into “Montana” I will not complain. I am still coming to terms with the new members of the band, after losing one of the original members of ZPZ, Dweezil replaced him with two new members who are still working on their sound and stage presence. The new chick singing was a little bit shrill and should not be singing some of the vocal parts, especially during "Zomby Woof” She seemed a little over enthusiastic, if you ask me...
Dweezil Zappa is a phenomenal guitar virtuoso and still holds up as one of the greatest live guitarist I have ever seen. His inclusion of Arabic and Middle Eastern scales and chord structures brings another level of genius to Frank's music. Someone in the crowd yelled, "Play whatever you want” and Dweezil responded with "I will play whatever the fuck I want." This is when Dweezil began his Zappa Family Trust spiel and I always get negative vibes when it is brought up. One of the new things that he had not mentioned previously, was that he is starting a campaign called “Dweezil Zappa and the Others of Intention” where you can donate to his cause. This makes a lot more sense now that I understand he is trying to gain support and monies to fight the battle. I support you Dweezil and I will be joining the "Others of Intention" as well.
The show started to pick up speed with some of the classics from "Joe's Garage" but having two female members in this band seemed a little strange to me, especially during songs like, “Keep it Greasy” or “Wet T-Shirt Nite.” I can see the reason for having two female members, possibly to broaden the audience inclusion, draw a more diverse and larger crowd but some of the songs are so male-centric, it's hard to get around a woman yelling about “Rump Relief” or "Big Wet Tits"...unless it's Scheila, we all love her.
Dweezil shows are all about the performance, there is really no light show, just overhead-cans shining down on the band. “Watermelon in Easter Hay,” Dweezil's favorite Frank song, was very, as Dweezil put it, “Emotional and Draining.” The band changed the lyrics of “Ride My Face To Chicago” and added “Ride My Face to Virginia” instead. The night concluded with an shred-tastic, “Muffin Man,” reminiscent of 77 Live.
I stayed after the show to meet the band and have my poster signed. Meeting Dweezil was an amazing experience and as a guitarist, I have been watching his YouTube lessons and I got to personally ask him about his economy picking style, something I have yet to master. Dweezil reassuringly responded, "You will get it man.” Needless to say, I was Fan-boy status after that. As I continued down the line to get more signatures Scheila Gonzalez herself commented to me, "Dude, I can't believe you knew every word to the songs tonight!" She seemed honestly shocked and I didn't know she could see me singing along up there. I responded, "Yeah, I'm just waiting to sing Captain Beefheart with you guys!" My night was made and I cannot wait for the next show, perhaps they will even call me up for “Deborah Kadabra” or another Frank/Beefheart Classic… A man can dream. Blown Away!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.