Frank Zappa on stage again thanks to the hologram tech of Eyellusion
Image: Jeff Pezzuti | Eyellusion

The world has come a long way since the infamous Tupac hologram made an appearance at 2012’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. When the rapper manifested on stage with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, giving fans a shocking posthumous performance, no one really knew what to make of what they had just witnessed.

Ahead of Their Time

While this wasn’t the first holographic image to have tapped into the realm of live entertainment, it marked a turning point in how this type of technology would impact the industry as a whole. At the time, the special effects company that had brought the 3D image to life (so to speak) was using things like overhead projectors. They had teased curious minds with a technology that had the ability to turn your wildest dreams into a reality.

Image: Jessica Yousef

All it took was someone to dream bigger, someone with an imagination and the drive, to propel what we knew of holograms into the future. Enter, Jeff Pezzuti. As CEO and founder of Eyellusion, today’s premier hologram entertainment company, Pezzuti has focused his attention on the live music market and has pieced together a team that is ushering these big ideas into existence.

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Along with Pezzuti, Eyellusion has grown to include EVP Ahmet Zappa, Wendy Dio, Chad Finnerty, Todd Singerman, Kenny Aronoff, and Scott Ross.

The buzz around Eyellusion began in 2016 when Pezzuti’s company premiered a holographic image of the late Ronnie James Dio at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. In 2017, the Dio Returns tour took the hologram on the road, along with the Dio band. It became the first hologram concert performance to feature a live band, prompting an exciting twist to hologram touring.

On May 31, 2019, the Dio tour begins its next run. Dio members Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, and Scott Warren, along with Dio Disciples’ Bjorn Englen, are all on board. The show includes Dio’s recorded vocals, and will also feature live performances by Tim “Ripper” Owens and Oni Logan.

As Eyellusion expands on their collaborations, they are effectively changing the way the world looks at hologram tours forever.

You Can’t do that on Stage Anymore

Ahmet Zappa, EVP of Eyellusion
Image: Jessica Yousef

In 2017, when Pezzuti teamed up with the Zappa Family Trust, and Ahmet Zappa stepped in as EVP, the only thing people knew for sure was that the Zappa show would technically be the most advanced hologram experience ever. Finally, after years of hard work and anticipation, The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa has materialized, and in April, it began winning over crowds along the East Coast.

 

Certainly, the idea of Zappa (in hologram form) reuniting with his longtime players Ray White, Mike Keneally, Scott Thunes, Robert Martin, Ed Mann, and Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers is bound to pique some interest. For people who have always loved the music, that alone, is reason enough to check out a show. The hologram is made with cutting-edge technology and allows for a sense of what it might have been like to have seen them perform live. However, this new experience, on its own, is something that will surpass most people’s expectations.

In a wild mixture of music, comedy, mind-blowing visuals, timeless tracks, and incredible talent, The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The hologram itself is only a fraction of what you’re going to get. Most of the time, you’re lost in some sort of wacky animation that you imagine came from being inside of Frank Zappa’s mind. Along with risqué cartoons that add a new level of artistry to Zappa’s lyrics, there are some powerful moments, as well.

“Trouble Every Day,” which Zappa penned in the ‘60s in response to the Watts Riots, has the artist singing onscreen, along with newspaper clippings. Archival audio, video, and pictures also make their way into the show, almost as if they are bringing the past into the present. One of the top highlights is when Frank’s son, Ahmet, takes the stage. Ahmet’s exuberant presence fits right into the spectacle perfectly.

You are What You is

Frank Zappa was a visionary, who, in ways, imagined this in his future. Before he passed away in 1993, he actually wrote about his ambitions in the hologram space, in his 1990 autobiography, “The Real Frank Zappa Book.” In that respect, this show is a rightful tribute to Frank. Not only does it bend the imagination by turning fantasy into reality, it perfectly captures the very essence of his eccentricity in a way that honors what he dreamt of bringing to fruition.

Frank Zappa was always ahead of his time. As a musician, a composer, and a satirist of American culture, he knew how to test the boundaries, and defied conformity at every turn. Much like this show, Zappa embraced the nonsensical and dared to envision something in the world that was yet to exist.

So far, The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa is receiving praise from audiences and critics alike. Thanks to the digital magicians at Eyellusion, people are getting to enjoy an experience that brings together longtime fans with those who are just familiarizing themselves with Frank’s music. The show merges the ideas of yesterday with the possibilities of tomorrow while utilizing the technology of the present. It’s a peek into the future that begs the question: what’s to come?

After wrapping up the first leg of the tour in Baltimore (which happens to be Frank’s birthplace) The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa is headed to Europe. While no official announcement has been made yet on the possibility of additional tour dates, the success of the show might be a good indication that there could be more stops down the line.

Eyellusion is also now collaborating with Primary Wave Music Publishing, on bringing the late, legendary pianist Glenn Gould, back to the stage via hologram. “This is just the beginning for us,” Eyellusion’s Jeff Pezzuti tells The Burn-In. “We set the bar very high and are excited both the fans and press are loving The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa. The brand new Dio show is next and many, many more to follow. The entire Eyellusion team is focused. World domination was always the goal.”

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Sari Cohen is a journalist based in the Greater L.A. Area. She began her career in the entertainment industry as a stand-up comedy writer/performer and over the years has developed scripts for both the stage and screen. She currently covers music and live entertainment for AXS, reviews movies for Hollywood First Look Features and writes for InLove Magazine. She also pens funny stuff for popular sites such as Cracked and Screen Rant. You can often find her at concerts or on a red carpet somewhere, talking to someone about something. From on-the-scene reporting to exclusive interviews, she tackles every topic from music, movies and television, to fashion, lifestyle and politics. You can check out more on Twitter at @ask_sari or follow her adventures on Instagram under @thesavvyscribbler.