Zappa Plays Zappa & The Lack of Fun in Music

dweezil zappa

I saw Zappa Plays Zappa last night.  I’ve been a fan of Zappa (Frank) since my teens, but as someone who grew up in the 80’s, I never had the chance to see him live.  So having the bloodline carry on the music is a pretty good option.

The show was awesome.  Musicianship that makes your head spin, classic songs (for the 40th anniversary of its release, they did Roxy and Elsewhere start to finish, then added songs like The Black Page, The Evil Prince, Muffin Man, even AC/DC’s Back In Black).

But a concert review, this is not.  

See, I was actually worried about the show a bit.  I’ve gone on before about how I’ve largely lost interest in complicated music.  These days it’s more enjoyable to turn the brain on autopilot and just enjoy.  I thought, as much as I adore Zappa’s music, that this might be too big a brain strain to be fun.

Dead wrong.

Aside from the special charm that FZ’s music has 1, it’s just plain fun.  There’s the obvious jokes in the song 2, but there is also the pure joy of the performance.

There’s laughter after pulling off really complicated or downright zany parts.  There are both choreographed and spontaneous dances, and both are meant to be humorous.  Audience members are encouraged, or even demanded, to participate in said dance numbers.  Some even are pulled on stage.

Certainly, every musical act does not need to border on silly, but why is it so rare to see people having fun?  Why do we have to take ourselves so seriously all the time?  Whether it’s nerves or a desire to be tough/moody, so many bands look unhappy on stage.  I’m sure every one of us has been to a show like this, where the band was clearly enjoying themselves while playing great music.  And light bulbs should’ve started blinked, cluing us in that this is a better experience as a fan.  Hint.  I know that next time I play live, I’m going to try hard to keep this in mind.

 

  1. I love doo-wop, so I think the heavy influence helps a lot for me, although I’m not sure what I loved first, Zappa or doo-wop
  2. Whether it’s literal jokes, or twisted musical journeys like the vocals on “I Come From Nowhere” – which they also performed