Mars Volta at the Hammerstein: Astronauts Going Nowhere


Not New York; imagine a giant Ouija board with a skull in the middle instead

Honestly: no idea how the Mars Volta can wrap a line of people around three sides of a city block, march them in, keep them standing up, and in place, for over two hours, without one recognizable time signature or melody, one single indication that the band has recorded songs that, were they to be played, people might actually enjoy. And the answer can’t be about the D&D appeal of the concept album about the guy in the drug-coma or the one about their dead sound-tech’s lost-and-then-found diary (diary!); it definitely can’t be last year’s Bedlam in Goliath, which was about a Ouija board named “The Soothsayer,” because some songs on that one were actually good, and we’ll be fucking damned if we heard a decent version of even one of them last night.

Can it really just be the brittle charisma flashed by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the unintentional proof that the Mars Volta are a band successful enough to carry eight members on tour but not successful enough to pay for more than two personal stylists? Rodriguez’s three-piece-suit monte, the dance he does with his guitar, his wishful saunter towards the world’s most fabulous knife fight? Cedric Bixler-Zavala, vigorously trying to mount a unicorn without splitting his bell-bottoms?

Boredom, maybe, but I am 90% sure that Zavala started doing Ghostface’s “Kilo” around the 1:45 mark, which I guess is in fact Jimmy Van & Richard Hieronymus’s “I Weigh With Kilos” in prog-rock land. This was immediately after the band’s Dillinger “Cokane In My Brain” cover and immediately before they soloed for another 25 minutes and quit. “Who gives a fuck?,” asked Zavala, finally waking up to his audience at the two hour mark. “Just hug each other—Hallmark makes a living off that shit.” I guess. To each his own hustle, right?

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