Last Night in Cleveland: The Mars Volta

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Walking into the Mars Volta’s concert at House of Blues last night, one thing was certain: The band was going to kick your ass with one aural assault after another. Stick-thin singer/screecher Cedric Bixler-Zavala literally kicked off the show by getting down and jumping around as his bandmates churned out “Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)” from the Mars Volta’s debut album, De-loused in the Comatorium. They then whipped into a triple-header from their latest CD, The Bedlam in Goliath: “Wax Simulacra,” “Goliath,” and “Ouroborous.” The crowd collectively banged its head in approval ... As each 15-minute epic careened into the next, there was little time for pointless stage banter -- although, at one point, Bixler-Zavala warned the packed audience (mostly made up of sweaty guys) “I guess my friends and I will just have to wake you wake up a little bit more.” So guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez did his part to keep everyone alert by coaxing mucho feedback from his instrument during some of the longest songs you’ll hear this side of a Sting Cheese Incident concert. The drum and saxophone solos also hit hard – onstage and with the audience. Bixler-Zavala kept busy during these long stretches by jumping, twirling, and becoming one with the floor -- especially in “Cygnus,” the never-ending opus from Frances the Mute. The mosh pit down in front got off on Rodriguez-Lopez’s atmospheric guitar noodling, while the dudes in the back of the club banged their heads -- particularly during the rousing closer, “Drunkship of Lanterns.” The Mars Volta, for all their wankery, certainly know how to put on a show. They kept the crowd enthralled for more than two hours. As the set came to an end, Bixler-Zavala flashed the crowd Mr. Spock’s Vulcan salute. Nerds to the core. --Diane Sofranec

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