Saturday, August 25, 2007

Zappa Plays the Wiltern

This past Thursday Jacki and went to the Wiltern to see the second year of the Zappa Plays Zappa tour led by Dweezil Zappa. As we were driving up to the show we saw a former co-worker of mine, JT, walking down the street about a block from the venue. After a quick hello through the car window we headed to the venue to get parked.

Once inside we did a quick run through merch. I purchased the recently released cds, The Dub Room Special, MOFO Project / Object, and Buffalo and saw they had a number of autographed tour programs so I also purchased one of those.

Once inside the venue we made our way down front. Our tickets were for the pit section right in front of the stage. The Wiltern security gives the pit people a wrist band and then they take your ticket. At the end of the night they return tickets randomly so you don't get the actual ticket you purchased. The scan to the right is of our purchased ticket.

We picked our place against the rail just to the left of center stage. Prior to the show we saw world famous guitar tech Thomas Nordegg tuning guitars and performing last minute prep on stage. We also saw Joe Travers, drummer for ZPZ, standing on the side of the stage. He recognized Jacki and I and waved to us from the wings.

The show started shortly after 8pm. Dweezil walked out alone and then the rest of the band quickly took their places on stage. As I saw some other reviews mention the special guests of last year were both highlights of that tour and a distraction from the show. This year Ray White was the only special guest and played an integral part of the show. As a result this show was all about Frank's music.

I was familiar with only 1/3rd of the set. I knew more of last year's material so this year's set list will be a good jumping off point to discover more Zappa. The band was much tighter this year. Up against the stage we could hear a combination of the side fills, the live percussion from the stage and Dweezil's amps that were only 10 feet in front of us. This was one of the first times where I could tell that the tone coming from the live amp was integral to the music being performed. Another surprise was Dweezil is a much better player this year. Although when Dweezil is trading off leads with Frank (on the big video screen), Frank still has the upper hand, both in tone and in the creativity of the solos.

My favorite moment of the set was when Dweezil and Frank were trading solos in Cosmik Debris during the solos. Dweezil's solo was one of his best of the show and then for Frank to close out the song was surreal. The integration between the live band and the video footage of Frank was much better this year. Other highlights included the improv section of Dupree's Paradise, Uncle Remus and Joe's Garage. During the improv Scheila performed a stunt where she was playing to saxes at the same time holding a low note on one and soloing with another. Dweezil even tried to add a flute to the mix but she wasn't having it. Another highlight during the improv was when Jamie Kime started riffing on this great funky guitar. It didn't build nearly as long as it could have but was a great run during the improv section.

At the end of the show when the band came out for their final bow Joe came out and handed me one of his drumsticks. A beat up Vater 5a stick. It was nice to see he remembered us from the numerous Keneally shows we've seen him at over the past two years.

The show was a solid effort by the band. They played 3 hours with no breaks. The playing was better this year as were the improv sections. We can only guess who the special guests will be next year. And let's hope Dweezil keeps the same band line up in place for next year.

Zappa Plays Zappa
August 23, 2007
The Wiltern
Los Angeles, CA

Black Napkins (w/ Video of FZ)
Tiny Lights
Advance Romance
Dumb All Over (w/ Video of FZ)
Dog Meat
Suzy Creemcheese
Brown Shoes
America Drinks
Peaches En Regalia
Pygmy Twylyte
Dupree's Paradise
Uncle Remus
Willie The Pimp
Joe's Garage
Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station
San Berdino
I'm The Slime
Illinois Enema Bandit
Wild Love
Yo Mama

Cosmik Debris (w/ Video of FZ)
G Spot Tornado
Muffin Man (w/ Video of FZ)

A special thanks to the fan that came up after the show and gave me his email address for some pictures. The picture of Dweezil was taken by him. The security people were being camera nazis so we weren't able to get any good pictures during the set.

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