A Review: Project/Object 1.2.10 Martyr's, Chicago, IL

Source: chicagojamscene.blogspot.com

Frank Zappa hit me like a tornado. My boy T-Bone turned me on to Zappa about 2 years ago and I was instantly obsessed. I spent about 3 months listening almost exclusively to Frank. I sucked down anything and everything I could wrap my mitts around. After studying a number of albums, I got completely hooked on Roxy & Elsewhere, Over-Nite Sensation and Apostrophe. It's to the point now where I feel like I could split my head open at the jawbone like a Pez dispenser and just pour Zappa down my neck. I love it. All of it. So it pleases me to no end that there are some kickass Zappa tribute bands currently shredding all over America. Of course there's Frank's son Dweezil's project: Zappa Plays Zappa. But as I recently discovered, there is another band still proudly keeping the Zappa fires burning: Project/Object. And this band features two members of Frank's old crew, Ike Willis and Ray White. So I knew I'd be in for a classic show.














P/O made their annual stop at Martyr's a two-night affair to kick off 2010. But after the madness of Umphrey's I needed a night off and skipped the first show. Turns out this was somewhat of a mistake as they played some of my favorite songs in this set; featured were "Peaches En Regalia", "Inca Roads" and "I'm The Slime". I obtained this knowledge when I first arrived at the venue. I snuggled up next to the stage in my usual Martyr's spot and right next to me was this old Head who absolutely reeked like a greenhouse. I knew he knew what was up so I asked him if he saw the previous night's show. He smiled and pulled out the setlist to let me examine it for a minute. I was bummed that I missed those songs, but this knowledge reassured me that they would play some rippers. It turned out that this night's set would be pretty similar to the previous night, but without the songs mentioned above and adding a few tasty treats.

They started the show off with some strange improv to inform us that this show was definitely going to be unique. Zappa's music always seems to amplify the absurd and this show held true to this ethos. Throughout the first set, which was littered authentic Zappa energy, Ike & Ray injected bits of humor into the lyrics. Their focus of ridicule on this night was Tiger Woods. Apparently they got swept up in the media circus surrounding Tiger's scandalous ass, because they absolutely let him have it. A highlight for me was "Cosmik Debris", during which Ray shredded a guitar and they changed up the lyrics to: "Look here Tiger... don't you swing those clubs at me". Fucking golden. Also joining Ike & Ray on stage were a trio of talented musicians. On the keys was Eric Svalgard (for some reason he looks exactly like I always pictured a guy with the name "Napoleon Murphy Brock" would look like, but alas, it wasn't him), commanding the lead guitar was Andre Cholmondeley and on bass was David Johnsen. It was Johnsen who blew up the next highlight song, "Apostrophe", by showing his chops with a fuzzed out & powerful bass lead. Towards the end of the set, they just couldn't help themselves and brought back the hilarity that is the downfall of Woods' life in "Montana". This time the lyric was: "Movin' to Montana soon... gonna be a Tiger floss tycoon". Personally, I thought it was pretty damn funny and felt like that kind of stuff is exactly what Zappa music is all about. However, some knucklehead standing next to me kept grumbling, "Ahhh, get off this golf crap!" I wanted to pee in his beer.


The second set featured a bunch of songs that I wasn't very familiar with. Part of me was disappointed that I couldn't groove to the songs I know and love. But part of me was incredibly stoked by this because I loved all the songs they did play, which only further (I keep typing Furthur, :) ) proves just how vast & amazing Zappa's body of work truly is. A serious high mark for me was when they stomped out "The Illinois Enema Bandit" which is definitely one of the goofiest Zappa songs and I feel could play as his thesis. This version featured an amazing display by Ray where he'd play a chord and harmonize it with his voice, sounding almost like a guitar duel of sorts. Ike & Ray kept up the Tiger bashing intermittently, adding that they "knew the horse was dead, but had to keep beating it". Indeed, the overexposure of a subject like this is integral to the absurdity of it all and Ike & Ray played that angle all the way to the bank. But Tiger wasn't the only humor in the show. Ike's sense of humor was really on display the whole time as he'd chime in with funny shit that sounded exactly like a lot of the banter on classic live Zappa recordings. After a particularly scorching solo by Andre, Ike belted out, "LORD HAVE MERCURY!" Then between songs he'd add to the weird by whispering something like, "hey brah hey brah got the heady nugs brah?" He basically captured exactly what I imagined being at a Zappa show in 1974 would have been like. In fact, I was almost as entertained by all the banter and silliness as I was by the show. This is no surprise as one of my favorite Zappa "songs" is "Dummy Up", which is essentially a skit constructed with nonsense & absurdity. The banter was definitely awesome, but they ended the show with an uber crunchy "San Ber'dino" that sent me home on a high & fantastic note. The music of Project/Object definitely holds up to the standard of Frank Zappa and I left this show with tremendous respect for these guys. They certainly do ol' Frank justice and that is no small feat.


















-Frazier

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