The bulk of MondoCon 2015 took place over the weekend, across two neighboring locations in north Austin. This is where the poster nerds and vinyl freaks came to bolster their collections, catch a few specialty screenings, and shake hands with the murderer's row of artists who'd traveled from all over the world to be there. On Friday night, however, MondoCon (in association with Beyond Fest) kicked things off downtown, in a church (of all places), with Frizzi 2 Fulci, a concert that catered to a smaller sub-set of the Mondo fanbase: horror nerds and soundtrack enthusiasts.
I was there. And it was amazing.
Frizzi 2 Fulci's a traveling showcase, and its performance on Friday evening was its first ever on U.S. soil. Here's how Mondo described the act in the press release that preceded the show:
Fabio will be joined on stage by his 8-piece Frizzi 2 Fulci Orchestra performing suites from classic Italian horror films ZOMBI 2 (AKA ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS), SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK, THE BEYOND, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, MANHATTAN BABY and more. Orchestral performances will also be accompanied by live visuals derived from Fulci's iconic filmography.
This is an accurate description, but it really doesn't convey how incredible the Frizzi 2 Fulci experience is.
For those lucky enough to be holding VIP tickets, he show kicked off several hours early with a lengthy soundcheck and meet-and-greet in the Central Presbyterian Church lobby. We walked in, and there was Frizzi - a legendary composer, author of some of the most iconic pieces of music ever put to film - perched atop a stool in a red hoodie, jamming through selections from the forthcoming show with the rest of his band.
Shortly thereafter, the natural light was extinguished for something a little moodier.
The space was completely darkened save for a series of red lights that lit up the area around the band. The glare splashed up the walls, all the way to the peak of the room, and across a massive crucifix that hovered just behind Frizzi's video screen. When I first heard they were doing this inside Central Presbyterian I was somewhat baffled, but a) the church apparently welcomes all kinds of concerts and performing acts through its doors, and b) it was actually the perfect location for this show. "Ominous af" doesn't begin to cover it.
After the soundcheck wrapped, the crowd was invited to meet the man himself. On offer were several new Mondo/Death Waltz vinyls, which could be purchased and signed during the meet-and-greet. Here's what they were hawking:
FRIZZI 2 FULCI LIVE
Death Waltz's premiere live album Frizzi 2 Fulci Live is a live recording of the first ever performance of Frizzi 2 Fulci Live from London in 2013. A double vinyl LP housed inside a gatefold sleeve with artwork by Graham Humphreys and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
Austin Exclusive: Red & Blue Vinyl swirl with solid Green, Clear Green & White splatter (500 Units only).
Colored vinyl edition available at both Austin & Los Angeles: Blue & Green split vinyl with Orange splatter.
A reissue of the highly sought-after soundtrack to THE BEYOND with brand new packaging and artwork by Graham Humphreys. A single vinyl record housed inside a gatefold sleeve with a booklet containing never before seen on set photographs.
Austin Exclusive: Pressed on Green & Orange swirl with Red & Yellow splatter (500 units only).
Colored vinyl edition available at both Austin and Los Angeles: Opaque green / clear green vinyl swirl with Orange splatter (limited to 1,000 units).
Here's something you need to know about Fabio Frizzi: dude is a sweetheart. The VIP group was large, the autograph/meet-and-greet line was lengthy, and a nearly two-hour performance was ahead of him, yet Frizzi seemed absolutely delighted to meet each and every person who came through the line. He signed vinyls, posters, whatever people put in front of him, and he chatted happily with everyone. In my experience, legends are as likely to be grumpy and standoffish as they are to be warm and friendly, and it was great to find out that Frizzi falls into the second category.
Once everyone was seen to, the rest of the crowd was let in and the church filled up. It was a packed house, and because Frizzi insisted on meeting each and every person that wanted to shake his hand (the mensch), things got started a little later than expected. It was worth the wait: what followed was an absolutely incredible tour of Frizzi's body of work, with scenes from each film playing out behind Frizzi and company as they wailed away on their instruments.
The infamous "zombie vs. shark" scene from Zombi 2 was a highlight of the show (I cannot begin to describe how surreal it was to see this scene playing out in a church, much less with live musical accompaniment from the person who wrote the score), as was the group's performance of "Seven Notes In Black" from The Psychic. Both of these moments can be glimpsed in the video below, captured at the event and uploaded by YouTube user VideoVlad.
And here's a few more shots from the show itself (by the way, thanks to Fons PR's Waytao Shing, Birth.Movies.Death. reader [and unapologetic wrestling enthusiast] Tom Nix, and myself for the photos contained in this article).
Eventually, the show came to an end, but Frizzi brought the band back out onstage for a lengthy encore. "There's something we haven't done yet," he told the crowd. "Something's missing. What is it?" The crowd chanted "The Beyond!", Frizzi nodded, and the band got back to work. It was a rousing conclusion to the show, and of course it all ended with a rapturous standing ovation for Frizzi and company.
This was a great way to kick off MondoCon 2015, and an experience no one in attendance will soon forget. Two days after playing this event, Frizzi and company were in L.A. performing the same show for the folks at Beyond Fest (who, if Twitter is any indication, were just as blown away by the experience as the Austin crowd was). As of right now it doesn't appear that Frizzi 2 Fulci has any further performances lined up in the States, but they do have a Facebook page set up, and I'd advise "liking" that page and keeping an eye on it for future announcements. If you ever get the chance to see this show, you should absolutely take it.
Special thanks to Fons PR, Waytao Shing, Tom Nix, the Frizzi 2 Fulci crew, and - last but not least - the good folks at Mondo/Death Waltz records, for helping to bring such an incredible event to Austin.