Between their past drug addictions during At the Drive-in and the loss of close friend and programmer Jeremy Ward, it’s been a rough road for Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. And if you’re not good with names, we’re talking about The Mars Volta, a band notorious for their great live performances and that’s stating it short.
Jay Ziegler, one of our great staff writers here at Consequence of Sound , would say that the band’s live show is simply, "two hours of a total mind fuck." Personally, I would go so far as to say that it may be even semi-life changing. Having seen them twice, first in Atlanta where they opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, where they jammed for thirty minutes or so on "Goliath" (better known as "Rapid Fire Tollbooth") and a redneck nearly burnt all my hair off while lighting a cigarette, and again in Miami, where Bixler-Zavala crawled out into the crowd, grabbed some woman’s purse, swung it around his body and asked all the glorious people of Miami if his "-ass was aerodynamic enough" for them. He gave the purse back, but delivered something else, too. "One of the greatest fucking shows I have ever been to," so said a fan walking out that night.
But, here’s the dilemma. What performance truly shows it all? What live performance would capture the sheer brilliance, energy, and drive of a band that thought they would "fail from the beginning"? Could it possibly be when Bixler-Zavala crawled up the rafters at Big Day Out, yelling into one of the lower boom microphones while tearing off its furry cover during "Roulette Dares"? Or, how about when Omar Rodriguez twirled his guitar about his head, while "This Apparatus Must be Unearthed" came to an end? Not quite. No, I’m looking for one that’s truly amazing and sticks with me.
Straight from their early hey-day, I bring you this: a performance that I believe far surpasses any of their others. This is one for the books and I say this because it makes the song on record seem slow, boring, and even lacking, and it’s easily one of the greatest tracks on De-Loused in the Comatorium. So lo and behold, this is thee full on Mars Volta experience at its highest level, starting with a punch and ending with a kick, complete with outlandish breaks and mind numbing presentation. Okay, okay, no more hold up! I give you, in two parts no less, The Mars Volta live at Summer Sonic with their epic number, "Cicatriz E.S.P."