The Mars Volta melt faces with mythical powers

A review of The Mars Volta at House of Blues on October 7, 2009

, Staff Writer

The Mars Volta can be a difficult band to understand. To the uninitiated, Wednesday night’s show at House of Blues might have been a bit overwhelming and thoroughly confusing, though heavy and energizing. To the legion of faithful fans packed to the roof, the night was an odyssey of banging hair, shrieking guitars, and balls-out progressive metal.

Taking the stage in front of a backdrop patterned with Mayan artwork and lit up with zooming holograms, The Mars Volta put on an unforgettable two-hour performance. The duo of guitarist Omar Rodgriguez-Lopez and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala feed off each other in a way that makes it seem as if the rest of the band are just extensions of them. Not to say they can’t hold their own. Bassist Juan Alderete and drummer Thomas Pridgen each showed some impressive solo chops, as well as proving rocksteady with providing the rhythm.

The setlist, which the band hasn’t altered during this tour, began with the headbanging “Goliath” from 2008’s The Bedlam in Goliath. Bixler-Zavala proved an impeccable frontman from the get-go, slinking around the stage and strutting with his microphone stand, his mop of curls flopping around with the music. Rodrigeuz-Lopez is a technically phenomenal guitar player who knows when its time to shred and when its time to sit back and drive the music forward. Keyboardist Isaiah Owens is a blast to watch hammer on the keys and bounce up and down to the twisted, offbeat times signatures.

“Viscera Eyes” was joined to “Idle Tooth” by about ten minutes of spacey guitar v. keyboard noodling, interrupted only by the occasional wail from Bixler, who drank constantly from a never-ending supply of a mysterious steaming liquid, possibly an ancient Mayan potion to keep his mythical pipes lubed and able to withstand the abuse he puts his vocal chords through every night.

“Drunkship of Lanterns” from 2003’s De-Loused in the Comatorium was the most well-received, and the final suite of “Meccamputechture” and “Day of the Baphomets,” was an epic piece of work. Every show comes down to musicianship, and the Mars Volta are a group of supremely talented individuals who create something greater than the sum of their parts when they begin making music together. Their show in Boston brought that front and center and left a packed House of Blues wandering, shocked and joyful, into the streets.

Leave a Reply