Halloween is approaching and that means spooky pumpkins, skulls, bats, black cats, witches and Frank Zappa. Zappa loved Halloween and would always try to play a series of shows around this time. In 1973 Zappa and his band played in Chicago on Halloween and then from 1974 to 1984 (except for 79 and 80) he and his band would play Halloween shows in New York City: 74-76 at the Felt Forum and 77-82 at the Palladium then back to the Felt Forum in 84. The shows in New York were a rock and roll bacchanalia of jaw-dropping musicianship, costume-clad revelry, spontaneous theatrical hijinks and of course a heavy dose of Zappa’s signature virtuosic guitar workouts. Eagerly anticipated every year, fans never knew exactly what was in store but knew it would be of epic proportions and one-of-a-kind experience that only Zappa and his skilled group of musicians could provide.
Some of these shows have been released for our consumption: the 77 show became the Baby Snakes album and movie; some songs from the 81 show appear on the Dub Room Special dvd and the full show came out on The Torture Never Stops dvd; and some of the 78 show appears on a 2003 release imaginatively titled Halloween. There is also the recent releases from the Zappa Family Trust of a 3cd set from 77 and the complete 73,78 and 81 Halloween shows, which can be a tad pricey for the casual Zappa consumer. However, thanks to the wonders of streaming services, these aural pleasures can be enjoying without putting a nuclear-sized crater in your bank account.
So brew your favourite Halloween concoction, sit back (or freak out, there is no judgement here) and submerge yourself into some great performances of Frank’s favourite holiday. Happy Halloween!