By Earl Leaf
The music explodes from the bandstand through the hyped-up amps, ricochets off the walls and slams the eardrums like a battery of jackhammers.
Dance-mad teeners come on like inhabitants from the planet Psycho (if there is one) in crazy far-out clads, some with op art designs painted on their faces and beds. They shout, sing, moan, twist themselves into pretzel shapes, jump in the air or shake, rattle and roll on the floor.
Psychedelic multi-colored scenes stain huge screens with nonstop surrealistic designs rivaling an acid head’s wildest hallucinations. Eerie gunpowder blue, blood red and vegetable green lamps play on the frenzied freakers. Strobe lights shoot off in split second hot white flashes that transform action into the jerky movements of a 1910 silent movie.
Detonating smoke bombs burn the eyes, choke the lungs and create a wiggy spectacle as if a bunch of lunatics have the hotfoot on an erupting volcano. What’s happening is a new kind of happening – a freak out – where the revelers blow their minds to the chaos of sound, sights, smokes and smells that fill the hall like a compression chamber.
This is the new teenage rage in
It began with release of an MGM two-disk album, “Freak Out!” by Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention. The Mothers are six bearded, long-haired musical maniacs who have to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Their first freak out filled Aerospace Hall beyond capacity, and hundreds were turned away. The next one filled Shrine Auditorium, one of
Now they’ve spread everywhere. Kim Fowley, “ex-Mayor of Sunset Strip,” introduced the freak out to
The new freakin’ darlings of the elite
The Mothers feature a group of kicky kookie freakies to lead the dances and provoke the madness in teenage happeners. When lead dancers Vito, Karl, Sue, Gail,
There’s no drinking or drugging at the freak outs, so nobody is hung over the next morning.
Though the term “psychedelic” (a common reference to LSD and other hallucinating mind-expanding acids) is often used to describe freaking out, the FO leaders are dead set against the use of marijuana and all drugs.
Zappa explains: “LSD destroys the brain. Who needs that? The same state of up or high can be obtained or even surpassed by freaking out under the influence of music, dance and illumination. There are many ways to achieve this super intense mental and emotional condition.
“Check the ancients and the Oriental mystics, man. They can get high by holding their breath, whirling in a circle, dancing or even going off alone and meditating in solitude. Hey, man, solitude is a gas! It’s not the Now scene, however. Today’s action is controlled, knowing-where-it’s-at madness. One head shrinker called this The Year of Turning On Without Drugs.
“Freak outs are a release of community energy, musically induced,” Zappa said. “Kids have a lot of excess energy and this gives them a chance to expend it creatively, not destructively in rebellious defiance, teenage riots, temperamental outbursts and other scenes that get them into trouble with their families and the law. Freakers collectively let off steam, shed the built up pressures of school or home and unravel their hang-ups of the moment.
‘On a personal level freaking out is a process whereby an individual can temporarily cast aside outmoded or conventional standards of dress, dance and deportment to enter into a state of complete self-expression, oblivious to everything and everybody around.”
The idea also is to be as far out and nonconformist as you dare in your freak out wear. Exaggerated makeup is a must for freakettes. Tricolored op art designs decorate Linda’s fair face. Janis, in a one-piece bathing suit, is daubed head to foot in luminescent paints. Jeannie, who looks better in a leopard skin than a leopard, has painted the words “Freak Out” on her legs. Carol is wearing the new mini skirt she’s too shy to wear on the street.
Nearly everyone’s off on his own freewheeling bag.
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