Zappa Plays Zappa
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Ponte Vedra, Florida
September 13, 2015
I first heard Frank Zappa at the time everyone should hear Frank Zappa, which is when you turn 15.
Killer guitar solos?
Songs about girls doing nasty things?
It’s really the perfect age to dig Zappa, because at 15 you’re a smart ass, subversive little pissant, and that’s a pretty good way to describe Zappa’s music, at least at first. Spend some quality time with some of the more than 60 albums he created, and you realize Zappa’s music is a universe unto itself.
There is music, and there is Zappa Music.
My cousin Chris turned me onto Zappa. He was always showing up with something wild that I hadn’t heard before; Stormtroopers of Death, Flotsam and Jetsam, D.R.I.
Then there was Sheik Yerbouti.
It was my introduction to the Zappa Universe. I’d never heard anything so fucking weird and awesome. My mind was uncorked, I was instantly hooked. Listening to Sheik Yerbouti made me feel like I was doing something illicit, possibly illegal, and definitely immoral.
This is the single best feeling a 15 old can have.
The guitar speaks for itself.
That was my feeling watching and listening to Dweezil Zappa perform his father’s music on a humid, mosquito buzzed night in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
For those not in the know, Zappa Plays Zappa is dedicated to the preservation and performance of the Frank Zappa canon, which is an extremely important mission, in this age of fake politicians and dumb politics (or is it fake politics and dumb politicians?) Dweezil’s band is in its tenth year of celebratory tours, and tonight it’s the 1975 classic One Size Fits All.
Center stage is a beautiful Gibson SG, and I wonder if it’s one of Frank’s original axes from the 70s.
The set begins with the epic “Inca Roads,” and the beloved solo is the first revelatory statement by Dweezil, who takes the original arch of its narative and stretches it out, moving it across time and bending its trajectory. In fact, this is a recurring theme—the original songs are expanded upon in a way that fits Frank’s own aesthetic and live approach, who regularly pulled his songs apart, reassembling them into entirely new compositions.
The solo is met with glowing adoration and awe.
The band is tight but loose, gliding through Zappa’s tortured melodies and unhinged sonic concepts. They’re also having a shit-ton of fun.
Dweezil introduces “Sinister Footwear” as One of Frank’s most complex songs…no joke, which is a massive understatement considering the Zappa catalogue is one long piece of complicated, mindfuckable music. The band crystallizes into a trio as they let fly a jam that is absolutely scorching. Nobody wants it to end.
Frank Zappa once said he didn’t care if he was remembered.
The Rock File is happy to report Dweezil Zappa feels differently.
Frank Zappa photo by Heinrich Klaffs
Zappa Plays Zappa photos by the Rock File