Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bogus Pomp Reopens the Ritz

I may complain a lot about the city I live in but I am blessed with the fact that Bogus Pomp, a Frank Zappa tribute band, lives and plays locally.
  Last night was the inaugural reopening (of many reopenings) of the Ritz Theatre in Ybor City. This was Ybor's one-time XXX theatre; it was that way when I first came to Tampa when I was 9. Since then it's opened and closed, changed names, closed down on account of drug dealing, opened as the Rubb, closed, opened, became a pool hall and now once again (and let's not fuck it up this time) it is the Ritz once again. Beautifully painted and cleaned, it's come a long way from its heavy metal mosh pit days of the early 90's. I saw Smashing Pumpkins in this theatre (paid $8 for what was historically one of the worst bands I've ever seen, one of the worst concerts I've ever attended); years later I saw Superchunk with Man or Astroman there and then years after, Yo La Tengo.
  Last night's show was not well attended. Don't know if the Bogus Pomp fanbase is mostly in St. Pete (just across the water) but there was about a third of the people that usually show up. Of course the usual faces were there, including ourselves, but it was just a scattering of folks. That's unfortunate since the band played what was one of the best "acoustic" sets I've ever heard them play. Just for the record, I've been seeing Bogus Pomp in concert since 1998. So in ten years, seeing them on average, two or three times a year, I've seen them at least 25 times which makes them the one band I have seen the most in concert.
  The first set was a quiet "acoustic" set of all instrumentals of music mostly from Absolutely Free and We're Only In it for the Money. They were so wonderfully played, so passionately rendered that same as I've felt listening to orchestral work from Frank Zappa I felt the same emotion. They played one of the best versions ever of "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" and a great "Holiday in Berlin". They closed the first set with a tender version of "Sofa No. 2". Those who would write off Frank Zappa as a "novelty" act because of "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Valley Girl" have never listened the beautiful melodies he was capable of composing. His last album, Civilization: Phase III was his best album ever.
  The "electric" portion of the show was mostly instrumental. No new variations, but still great stuff: "Dog Meat", "Black Napkins", "Zoot Allures". They teased the beginning of "Let's All Move to Cleveland" (which, without the medley portion makes it a little flaccid). Jerry Outlaw dedicated "Watermelon in Easter Hay" to a friend in Japan; when that song plays, everything seems perfect in the world...
 They played a truncated "The Little House I Used To In..." which went smoothly into "King Kong". David Pate, possibly the world's greatest living saxophonist, as always, got the most fan fare.
  By the time the show was over almost everyone had left. Was it something they said?

"Uncle Meat Variations" from Zappaween, a couple of years ago...

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