Audience experiences Zappa

By Monte Rifkin

Vidette, September 27, 1977

Friday night at 8 p.m., the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall grew quiet.[1] There were painted faces and strange clothes spotting the audience of about 8,000. Then a band walked onto the stage, highlighted by a strange man that many have come to know as a true professional, an artist in his own right ... Frank Zappa.

"I'm glad you guys showed up tonight, because this place would be horrible if it were empty", were his first words.

This being the third Zappa show I have seen, followers of Zappa (they can't be called fans) will understand that after seeing Zappa perform, one still has to see Zappa perform again.

He performed much from the Zoot Allures Lp, which was released about a year ago, The audience listened attentively to "The Torture Never Stops" as Zappa designated two girls to their front-row seats.

The lighting for Zappa is always a mixture of skill andintense choreography, as demonstrated by the fine lighting of instrumented soloists, even though the solo only lasted 3 seconds.

During "I Wanna Be Dead", a new song, which will probably be on his forthcoming LP, "Live In New York City" Zappa allowed three 7 and a half minute solos.[2] A double-live album, "Live in New York City" was scheduled to be released last June, but will be held back until sometime in the next few weeks.

One thing atypical of Zappa's "Mothers", is that they consistently change members. Although some of the members have appeared on previous Zappa albums, Pat O'Hearns' fretless bass was a tremendously complementary to the overall spectacle of a Zappa performance. There is always someting happening on stage during the show, there is never a dull moment.

The concert was smooth, with Zappa performing in tradition, relax, enjoy, and appreciate. A true musical perfectionist. At times he conducted both the band and the audience, with the refined cut-offs and leads of a symphony conductor.

There was no warm-up band, even though Starcastle was billed to perform with Zappa until three days before the show. At 10 p.m., the band walked off the stage.

I had almost forgotten what an auditorium looks like when it's filled with anxious faces and lit matches in every hand. I was reminded.

Zappa came back and did two full encores, "San Berdino" and "Black Napkins", both of which the audience seemed astutely involved in, both musically and appreciatively.

Although it can be admitted that Frank Zappa is a truely unique performer, there are those that will argue his music to be too bizarre and unnatural. True, his music may be somewhat bizarre to some, his true grace and style in presentation is simply astounding.

I've heard Zappa compared to many other artists, but I would prefer to refrain from any comparisons (Zappa has been performing probably longer than most people that he can be compared to anyway) for the sake of the true Zappa-elites.

It's really difficult to talk about Zappa and his music without mentioning his audience. Zappa is his audience ... the intellectuals who want to see an artist; the painted faces looking for a "rock" concert; and even the regulars who just want to see a show. One thing is certain, Zappa has one devoted audience.

The show as great, as Zappa, by nature, needs no compliments ... he knows his audience and how to please them.

To all readers who have never seen a Frank Zappa show, but profess to an acute to desire to experience music in a different tangent, this is the concert to see ... Frank Zappa, an artist, a professional, a musical genius to some. One hell of a great guitarist to all.

I didn't even mention the lyrics ... I can't, most of them would be censored. See you Friday.

1. FZShows: The concert was on September 23, 1977. Zappa's band: FZ, Adrian Belew, Patrick O'Hearn, Terry Bozzio, Ed Mann, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf. The circulating audience recording songlist: Intro, Peaches En Regalia, The Torture Never Stops, Tryin' To Grow A Chin, City Of Tiny Lights, A Pound For A Brown, Flakes, Big Leg Emma, Envelopes, Disco Boy, I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth, Wild Love, Titties 'n Beer, The Black Page, Jones Crusher, Broken Hearts Are For Assholes, Punky's Whips, Dinah-Moe Humm, The Illinois Enema Bandit.

2. The song title is "Tryin' To Grow A Chin".