LIVE: Dweezil Zappa @ The Egg, 10/25/16

(Video from soundcheck)

It’s a new band name, but thank goodness, it’s the same old politically incorrect songs.

As Dweezil Zappa warned before “Catholic Girls” and again before “Fem-Bot in a Wet T-Shirt,” some folks in the audience were certainly going to be entertained, while others might be offended.

Yes, 50 years after his first album and more than 20 years after his death, Frank Zappa and his music still aren’t politically correct. And it’s not likely that they ever will be.

At The Egg’s Hart Theatre on Tuesday evening before a sold-out crowd, Dweezil played the music of his late father for more than two and a half hours. It was sometimes puerile, nearly always complex and, in the case of the instrumental “Watermelon in Easter Hay,” occasionally absolutely beautiful.

That’s as it’s been for the past decade, as he’s carried on his father’s musical legacy under the name Zappa plays Zappa. But now Dweezil’s run up against the Zappa Family Trust, headed by his brother Ahmet, and Tuesday night’s show was billed as 50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the [email protected]%k He Wants: The Cease & Desist Tour. Difficult to fit on a marquee, for sure.

And as Dweezil explained during the concert, the litigation isn’t over yet. The Family Trust has filed papers seeking to prevent Dweezil from using the name “Zappa” in any way.

So you might think that all of this sibling squabbling and family feuding might have Dweezil all fired up, but that didn’t seem to be the case at The Egg. Sure, it was great to hear the opening clutch of songs – especially “Who Are the Brain Police?” and “It Can’t Happen Here,” a pair of cultural and political warning shots as on target today as they were 50 years ago on Zappa the Elder’s ambitious debut album, Freak Out!

And nuggets like “Inca Roads” and the dazzling instrumental “Black Napkins” are always a pure pleasure. The musicianship was superb from guitarist Dweezil as well as his six-piece band – most notably keyboardist-saxophonist-vocalist Scheila Gonzalez.

But it seemed as though something was missing this time around, and it’s not just the band name. The old Zappa snarl and snark – so crucial to his songs of social commentary – was MIA. And when it was time for the band to cut loose, it was as though they were carefully choreographing chaos
rather than just being chaotic.

To paraphrase the “Cozmik Debris” encore, “Is that real Zappa music or is that Sears Zappa music?”

This review was originally published in The Times Union.

Help, I’m a Rock / Transylvania Boogie (The Mothers of Invention)
It Can’t Happen Here (The Mothers of Invention)
You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here (The Mothers of Invention)
Harry, You’re a Beast / The Orange County Lumber Truck (The Mothers of Invention)
Lemme Take You to the Beach (Frank Zappa)
How Could I Be Such a Fool? (The Mothers of Invention)
Who Are the Brain Police? (The Mothers of Invention)
What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning? (Frank Zappa)
Shove It Right In (Frank Zappa)
Flower Punk (Frank Zappa)
Inca Roads (Frank Zappa)
Black Napkins (Frank Zappa)
Teen-Age Wind (Frank Zappa)
Montana (Frank Zappa)
Zomby Woof (Frank Zappa)
Catholic Girls (Frank Zappa)
Doreen (Frank Zappa)
You Are What You Is (Frank Zappa)
The Illinois Enema Bandit (Frank Zappa)
Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt (Frank Zappa)
On the Bus (Frank Zappa)
Keep It Greasey (Frank Zappa)
Outside Now (Frank Zappa)
Watermelon in Easter Hay (Frank Zappa)
Ride My Face to Chicago (Frank Zappa) (sung as “Ride My Face to Albany”)
Cosmik Debris (Frank Zappa)
The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing (Frank Zappa)
Muffin Man (Frank Zappa)

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