Music Review: The Mars Volta @ Somerset House

By Londonist Last edited 103 months ago
Music Review: The Mars Volta @ Somerset House

Despite the stunning open-air surroundings, a thick fug of weed smoke hangs in the air. Beards, skaters and scenesters cluster to the front of the stage and thins out to the back. This is not a packed house. Being a fan of The Mars Volta’s first album, the proggy masterpiece De-loused at the Crematorium, public interest in them has faded over the years as each successive album has disappeared further and further up someone’s arse - theirs presumably. As the six-strong band strode onto the stage and key members guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala took centre stage, it seemed for a brief minute that they would rock the house so to speak. Bixler-Zavala oozed alpha male confidence.

And then they started playing. And Bixler-Zavala began convulsing, gyrating, spitting, body popping and mic kicking, thrashing around like a dying eel, wailing over guitar wanks and staccato drums to unimpressive effect. Was this a parody? If it was, it wasn’t funny.

Perhaps judgement is unfair, unfamiliar with the band’s more recent work, but the muddy, confused and startingly dull riffage that ensued was wearisome. Gone were the intricate songscapes of De-loused, replaced by middle of the road cock rock, diffused by the sounds of six guys, seemingly playing in different rooms. The crowd were more impressed than me, nodding along (out of beat), and puffing the aforementioned ‘erb. Clearly we were missing something, but the louder and more frantically they played the duller the music got. Only when they pitched in an instrumental half way through was there any semblance of a song being played.

Words by Adam Richmond. Photo from lwestcoat's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.

Last Updated 14 July 2009

FoodStories

Sorry for being a nerd but the Mars Volta's 1st album was called 'De-loused in the Comatorium' not 'at the Crematorium'. Agreed on their new stuff though - terrible.

gblan

Were you at the same gig as everyone else last night?!

"Gone were the intricate songscapes of De-loused, replaced by middle of the road cock rock..."
If you were to actually listen to any of the other albums you may find that the level of intricacy increase post De-loused.
Fading public interest...explain how they still sell out gigs regularly around the country, at larger venues than they were doing so at the time of De-loused!

Sorry for the rant but if your going to report on something, actually know what your talking about!!

and by the way the gig was actually fantastic!

Talia

Not a full house? I thought it was sold out??

Cubert

If your ploy was to get me to sign up just to call you a cock, it's worked.

COCK.

Johnnyseven

I agree with Cubert's comments above. The Mars Volta were amazing on monday, I agree that the sound wasn't that great and playing in daylight was kind of odd for them, but if this reviewer had actually known (and liked) all the songs they played i'm sure he would have enjoyed the gig as much as me, and the majority of the audience, did. It was really good to see Cedric actually talking to the audience, the 4 times I have seen them before this he just seemed to be in his zone and concentrate on performing. A great gig.

dan hazelwood

"nodding along (out of beat) and smoking the aforementioned erb". im not a diehard mars volta fan, i don't own any albums, but i went to the gig with a friend. im not even gonna comment on the gig. i dont usually write on sites like this, or do anything like it, but you inspired me to say you write like a total cunt. seriously. im a musician and you dont 'nod out of beat' its just not what people who know what they are talking about say. give it up son. write for the daily mail or the express