Going Live: The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta1Photos Cred: Jeff Parsons

Who: The Mars Volta
Kool Haus, Toronto
October 4th 2009

“Now I’m lost”

Finding the perfect collection of sounds to indulge in is a difficult task. Our senses are constantly left defenseless to new creations and in turn, tear apart our structured tastes in music. Yet The Mars Volta seem to have made a permanent home in a universe filled with exotic sounds that will slap you in the face. In a sense, it seems like they’ve found their favourite noise and they don’t plan on accepting change anytime soon.

Since the troupe from El Paso recently released their version of an acoustic album, it was hard for anyone to predict what kind of visual spectacle they would soon witness. With a 20-minute delay, the anxious crowd shuffled, hoping the band would soon tread the very stage in front of them. Then the lights dimmed, cheers echoed off the walls and a fitting and too familiar tune erupted.

The opening theme from the Clint Eastwood film A Fistful Of Dollars.

The Mars Volta2

As the arrangement bellowed and built up a sophisticated introduction, The Mars Volta finally appeared. Like aging matadors poised for one final confrontation, the group kicked into their set with the eerie intro of “Son Et Lumiere”. As eyes trembled with surprise and satisfaction, singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala crooned the sonnet that starts their debut De-Loused In The Comatorium. As he ended his melodic speech, the band responded with a thunderous anger that spoke volumes.

The split second of silence that followed and introduced “Inertiatic Esp” can only be described as breathtaking. One minute the band looked content and civilized. The next, it’s mayhem. Bixler-Zavala howled while guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and the others thrashed in a primal fit as if their instruments were possessed. Such energy from the band seemed as if it had perished long ago, but this resurrection was almost identical to their past performances when they weren’t a household name.

The Mars Volta3

The Mars Volta4

Wailing through tracks like “Goliath”, “Roulette Dares” and “Cotopaxi”, The Mars Volta rattled a type of energy that made one wonder why there wasn’t a mosh pit. As Bixler-Zavala preached through falsetto, his actions spoke louder. At times it seemed as if the singer was wrestling a fuming python, not a microphone stand, as he tried to hit every note while wrapping himself in the music surrounding him. Along with handstands and rhythmic meltdowns, the frontman knows how to express his feeling for music.

Rodriguez-Lopez on the other hand was deeply intertwined with his guitar, unleashing solos and riffs that teased minds and violated ears. Throughout songs like “Halo Of Nembtuals” and “Viscera Eyes”, the guitarist made bold statements that tripped out fans and his bandmates who couldn’t resist from feeling every plucked string. Exaggeration or not, Rodriguez-Lopez’s live renditions are stunning to look at and hear as mercy isn’t a word in his guitar’s vocabulary.

Although some parts of the 14-song set dragged on, the performance questioned whether The Mars Volta should move their act and overall talent to a bigger environment. Being sheltered in a popular venue added a bit of fuzz to their sound which ended up not being as clean and pure as it usually is. But maybe that’s something we all just have to accept.

The Mars Volta5

Because maybe that particular sound is what The Mars Volta want to dwell in forever.


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