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The Mars Volta attack Austin Music Hall April 16, 2008

Posted by rugwu in Concert, Indie Rock, Photo.
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[Photos by Callie Richmond]

For all the talk about The Mars Volta’s tendencies toward the more cryptic, infuriatingly dense and questionably coherent reaches of the progressive rock genre, the buzzworthy band from El Passo made their case utterly transparent in front of a panic-inducingly packed crowd at the Austin Music Hall Thursday night. These guys rock. Hard.

Guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez emerged at the outset of the two-and-a-half hour set and immediately began shredding something fierce. He kicked and shuffled his feet spastically as Cedric-Bixler Zavala, the other half of an increasingly-legendary Texas post-hardcore duo, took the stage shrieking beneath a thick, kinky, fro’d-out hair-do. Bixler-Zavala is a force. The Volta’s vocalist doesn’t do double duty on guitar or keys, instead he galavants around the stage like James Brown or Freddie Mercury on ‘shrooms – grabbing anyone within striking distance (Rodriguez-Lopez, a stage hand) and climbing anything within a 10-yard radius (speakers, canga drums).

Forget grandiose aural concepts and defiant song structures, the crowd moved in odd time signatures. From the balcony, a sea of die-hard rockers shifted in spasmodic waves like a complex organism. Crowd-surfing was par for the course. It was freaky, hypnotic. Also hypnotic was shirtless, dreadlocked drummer, Thomas Armon Pridgen, who seemed to be giving in to animalistic urges with every inspired, incessant beat.

The show, as previously mentioned, lasted two-and-a-half hours – perhaps a half-hour too long. But The Mars Volta aren’t interested in getting out clean. They want to transcend prosaic genre-tending while thoroughly rocking bodies and minds. Don’t fight it.

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