The Mothers Of Invention In Hit Concert

By Dick Barnes

The San Diego Union, 3 June 1968

The Mothers of Invention brought their attack on all things phony to San Diego Saturday night and left 3,000 San Diegans laughing uproariously – if somewhat nervously – at their satirical spoofs of American life.

The Mothers, making their first local appearance, turned in one of the most stimulating and entertaining rock performances in many months.

The nine long-haired and gaily garbed Mothers, playing saxophones, drums, gongs and guitars – all channeled through several mysterious brown boxes on stage – produced a sound that nearly defies the tag “rock ‘n’ roll.”

The music runs from fragmented, avant-garde electronic wails to saccharine-sweet, swinging sounds of the 1950s progenitors of the new music. All of it punctuated by the yelps and howls of the Mothers.


Head Mother Frank Zappa, spiritual leader of the band and the rock genius who writes most of the compositions, gave the lead to Ray Collins, who handled the vocals beautifully.

Collins, who seemed to be half musician and half-mime, delighted the crowd with acerbic musical broadsides at high school life, the news business and Broadway’s pathetic playlands and shooting galleries.

The Mothers are all accomplished musicians who do not sacrifice their abilities to indulge in their acid commentaries on the American life style.


From a purely technical point, the only serious challenge to the Mother’s musicianship came two weeks ago from a trio of English virtuosos, Cream.

In a satiric slam aimed precisely at the crowd seated on the floor in front of them, the Mothers ridiculed the “Plastic People.”

“Plastic,” in the hip jargon, means phony and artificial. The audience loved it, applauding the insults wildly.


The Mothers capped a fine performance with a shortened version of their tour de force, “King Kong,” which has run up to 70 minutes at other places.

The concert was one of the finest of its kind ever in San Diego. The embarrassing private police searches at the door are gone now and a new position of the stage created more space in the vast hall, relieving the “sardine syndrome” of past shows.

The Framework, a local rock band, made the concert that much better. Possibly the best rock outfit in town, they’re the old Linda and the Centaurs, gone electronic.