The third time we get to see the Bay area’s best (and likely the country’s finest) Frank Zappa tribute act helmed by guitar shredder Jerry Outlaw is the now-traditional Halloween show, Zappaween, during which attendees come in costume and get weird and the setlist takes a turn into the prog icon’s darker material.
This year’s edition marks two decades of Zappaween. “Not a lot of things last 20 years, you know? Especially things that aren’t lucrative,” Outlaw said when I chatted with him yesterday. “It’s one of those things that has managed to live, 21 years now as a band, just for the love of the music, ‘cause it’s certainly not for the money. And this is going to be a special one, because a band member that was at our very first Zappaween, who moved away 10 years ago [percussionist/vibesman George Bernardo], is back in town briefly and he’s going to perform with us.”
The inaugural Zappaween launched in 1995 at Jannus Landing (now Jannus Live), and the ensemble has done it every year since except for 2004. “It’s become an expected part of St. Pete’s Halloween.” From then until now, Outlaw said, “The main thing that’s changed, is that we play the music right [laughed]. We’ve been playing it for so long, it’s really ingrained. It’s amazing to look at the catalog of music that we have, that we’re able to perform, so much of it, so many hours of it we could just play right now. It's a trip. At the same time, it’s almost sad, because after Zappaween 20, I don’t know what else we can do locally, that we haven’t already done, except repeat ourselves.”
Though the future of Bogus Pomp is up in the air after this performance, Outlaw remains content his band has come so far. “Zappaween 20 is a hell of a milestone, for me, personally as a musician, but for the band, it’s amazing, because bands just don’t stay together for 20 years playing ridiculous music that doesn’t get us paid. It’s a very special thing, it feels like a very sentimental thing. Who knows what’s happening after it? So I’m just gonna give it everything I got and leave on stage at the State.”
They’ll be playing two sets, and for all the Zappa geeks out there, Outlaw was kind enough to provide me with the complete song-by-song rundown, included at the bottom of this post in case any of you were actually on the fence about going or wanted to make sure you showed up on time to see particular songs. The first extended set begins at around 9:15 p.m. (which gives band members plenty of time to take the kids trick or treating before the performance) and encompasses a “super long version of” “Torture Never Stops” with a costume contest included, followed by one short intermission, then a second more instrumentally heavy set that should last until 1:30 a.m., give or take. “It’s going to be alot of music for those brave enough to hang around til we’re done.”
Because it’s Halloween, the selected material skews darker. “There’s going to be a couple of moments where we get way down into the sonic gutter,” he said, which includes the aforementioned “Torture Never Stops,” an Outlaw favorite. “We do it every Halloween. It’s a renowned famous Halloween song for Frank Zappa. It’s an evil song with an evil sentiment, it paints an ugly picture lyrically, and it’s one of those songs that is sinister sounding, as far as songs with lyrics go. It’s gonna be an evil moment.”
Zappaween 20 takes place this Sat., Oct. 31, at State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Tickets are $20; doors open at 8 p.m. Bogus Pomp is: Jerry Outlaw (guitar, vocals), Alex Pasut (bass), Rick Olson (keyboards, vocals), Ross Jobson (keyboards), David Pate (saxophones, flute), Jim Hall (trombones), David Coash (vibes, marimba, percussion), Matt Cowley (drums), Jason Caren (drums), Ward Smith (vocals, buffoonery) and Pat Buffo (vocals, whacky hijinks), and George Bernardo (vibes, marimba, percussion).
Gumbo Variations, Peaches En Regalia, City of Tiny Lights, Pygmy Twilight, Advance Romance, Fifty-Fifty, The Torture Never Stops, Cheapness, Andy, Black Napkins, Zoot Allures, Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy, Outside Now, Cosmic Debris, Yo Mama 15
Regyptian Strut, RDNZL (Redunzel), Big Swifty, The Grand Wazoo, Cruisin’ for Burgers, Sinister Footwear (“which’ll be damn sinister”), Approximate, Pound for a Brown, King Kong, The Little House I Used to Live In, Uncle Remus, Tell Me You Love Me, Zomby Woof, Strictly Genteel