Photo by Aaron Thackeray
The Mars Volta Sunday, May 18, 2008 Fillmore Auditorium
“How are you supposed to review what we just saw?” my wife asked as we filed out of The Fillmore last night, following another Denver visit by the best hyphenated-name duo (well, plus seven other guys) on the planet. “I just wish they could have mustered up a little energy… so disappointing…” I muttered, so flabbergasted by their ballistic barrage that only weak sarcasm remains.
Our evening began with some soothing margs at Mezcal before we ventured to The Fillmore. The Mars Volta hit the stage at 8:35, and two-and-a-half hours later, the band seemed just as energetic (if not more so) than when Omar Rodriguez-Lopez struck the first chord of the night.
The first song awoke an unprepared crowd with an unrelenting assault. Vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala absolutely owned the stage all night with all his gymnastics and mike-whirling; but for this cut, he disappeared off the stage to visit the crowd, while Omar soloed and the rest of the band held things down. Cedric appeared a short time later at the back of the Fillmore, with a train of people surrounding him as he gyrated back toward the stage, trying on someone’s baseball hat before tossing it into the air…
This is their FIRST song, I thought. We’re in for it. The intensity of the act's entire set is simply unmatched by anyone.
I’d seen the band twice before, both with drummer Jon Theodore, and his replacement, the ridiculous monster known as Thomas Pridgen. A drummer myself, I was eager to see if Pridgen’s live performance would match up to his unearthly playing on Volta's latest. Wow. Live, Pridgen is an absolute murderer. His chops are surpassed only by his seemingly infinite vigor. It was truly a joy to watch this hard-hitting cat. I love both Theodore and Pridgen, Theodore slightly more, given his slightly less-dense approach. But it’s easy for anyone to be simply blown out by Pridgen. There’s no stopping the 24-year-old -- he’s young, inspired, powerful and formidable.
I’ve been lucky to see just a few groups in my life where I felt everyone on stage was completely confident in their ability, and that there was something very special going on. I’m adding The Mars Volta to that list. A night of this band’s fiery zeal is overwhelming; I felt like a noodle afterward, and all I did was stand there! But I’m fairly certain after some sleep, I’ll want to step behind my kit and practice.
-- Madison Lucas
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