Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Two doses of Zappa in six days

It's funny (or not funny at all if you're a promoter) how things work out. Last summer there were two Billy Joel tributes scheduled in Charlotte for the same night. Later this month two a cappella groups (Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser) play two separate Charlotte venues on the very same night. While these are undoubtedly totally different shows, given the similarities I'd imagine there's no way to avoid splitting the audience. If it's timed just right sometimes you can take in both (which works out well if you're paying a sitter), but then you're paying admission to both too.

That won't be a problem for Frank Zappa fans this week when two Zappa tributes play Charlotte. Thursday, January 31, Detroit's Ugly Radio Rebellion plays the music of Frank Zappa for what I'm hearing will be a three-hour show (no opening act) at Amos' Southend. Admission is a mere $6 in advance, $8 day of show.

Next Tuesday, February 5, Zappa's son Dweezil (pictured above) brings his Zappa Plays Zappa tour back to Neighborhood Theatre. Tickets for that show are $28 to $30. So you can see both concerts for under $40.

I've seen Zappa Plays Zappa and interviewed Dweezil Zappa in 2008. He oozed enthusiasm about a project that makes him (and fans) feel close to his deceased father. His show uses video so audiences get the added treat of watching father and son playing together. While I'd love for him to play his own lone hit "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" (a ridiculous piece of late `80s pop culture trivia - my best friend had the cassette), Zappa Plays Zappa is a really sweet gesture for those of us that look for ways to feel close to our deceased loved ones. In a way it's for the same reason people go watch tributes to acts that we can no longer see live (the excellent Michael Jackson Who's Bad tribute draw really well in the wake of the King of Pop's passing, for instance).

While I haven't witnessed Ugly Radio Rebellion's set before, the trio has been recreating Zappa's catalog for over a decade, so it should have plenty of experience churning out marathon sets. Both acts certainly share a love of Zappa's music. It's not like stumbling over three chords at a sports bar. A lot more preparation has to go into recreating his complex tunes.