The Mars Volta
House of Blues, Orlando, Fl • April 1, 2008
Those yet unconvinced by the musical brilliance of The Mars Volta need only see them in concert to be persuaded.
The dual masterminds behind the band, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala, have created a sound and spectacle unlike anything out there. Though sometimes confusing and almost always complex, the compositions that The Mars Volta make only reach their full potential when nursed with the spontaneity of live performance.
Their recent show at Orlando’s House of Blues was full to capacity with fans and the curious alike. There was no opener, only three hours of The Mars Volta. For some this may seem a bit indulgent for a band who began a mere five years ago. But for others, it must have been like watching a great movie without having to sit through commercials and coming attractions.
After stretching everyone’s patience to the near breaking point by not starting the show until an hour and a half after door time, the eight-piece version of TMV erupted into a ten-minute version of “Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)” from De-Loused in the Comatorium. I had been a fan of the duo’s prior post-hardcore project, At The Drive-In, but found their current music a little perplexing at the time. Seconds into their opening song I felt like I was witnessing one of the most incredible bands of this generation.
The androgynous and limber-as-a-gymnast Bixler is a frontman that embodies Robert Plant, David Bowie, and Janis Joplin all in one effortless swoop. His overgrown afro curtains his face as he swings his hips and curls his body around the mic stand or even guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s legs. He is, as any great frontman in rock music should be, an embodiment of genre-less sex. Considering how constant his motion on-stage is, it’s amazing that he can hit the impossibly high notes that he does, let alone do so with such ease.
As he dances around like a whirling dervish, Rodriguez-Lopez conducts his band mates while simultaneously playing some of the most complicated guitar parts in modern music. Even when he steers the band off into jam-like tangents of psychedelic stroking, the skill and style with which he plays is enough to keep the mood from turning masturbatory.
The way the audience reacted to this progressive metal mind fuck was to swirl into one floor-sized wave of energy. The fans in the front seemed fit to burst, and there was a nervous pulse in the air that could be seen as much as felt. Like the deep frequencies of a bass beat, the House of Blues was a pulsating mass that never seemed to tire.
Three hours of one band seems like a long time until you subject yourself to the spirit of The Mars Volta.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.