First off, let me say I've been waiting for this show for a long time and it was very worth the wait. We arrived at the Showbox in Seattle to find out the show was very sold out. There was a large crowd standing outside apparently trying to get in. We made our way through the crowd and settled near the front.
The Rye Coalition was up first. They started about 30 minutes early which was nice. Usually shows start late if anything. I had never heard the Rye Coalition before and I really enjoyed them. Musically they almost reminded me of Rocket From the Crypt with their style of guitar riffs. The singer had a really rough voice that was almost like Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan's but not quite that extreme. They played for about 30 minutes and the crowd liked it. I think a lot of people hadn't heard them before that night so that was probably good for the band.
Saul Williams came on next. I thought it unusual at first to have a slam poet come on and recite poetry between two rock bands but it worked very well. He was a very political poet with a lot of strong messages that re-occured throughout his pieces. The president, music, war and religion were just a few. He was also really funny between poems and kept the crowd's attention really well. It turns out he was on the tour to promote his book which they are promoting like an album. It is called "Said the Shotgun to the Head". Check out his site - here. It was interesting to have a poet at a rock concert and I think most of the people at a Mars Volta show are intelligent enough to appreciate what this guy had to say.
Finally, The Mars Volta took the stage. The moment we had all been waiting for. After a minute or so of ambient noise, the guitar part of Son Et Lumiere started up. The blood started flowing through my veins as my fists were thrown into the air to strike with every note. The crowd went absolutely nuts when the song changed to Inertiatic EP. I noticed Cedric was a little less crazy at the microphone then during his days with at the drive-in (who i was lucky enough to see before they broke up at the same venue). I didn't think the Mars Volta would sound as good live as on the album since the music is so complex. I was pleasantly surprised. The only dissapointing thing was the lack of backup vocals that i was used on a few of the songs.
Roulette Dares was insane! Again, the crowd went nuts. I could spot a bunch of little Cedric-Wanna-Bes with their afros twitching around in the crowd trying to do their best impersonation. It was quite comical. I figured they would shorten some of the songs up during the jam parts, but everything was left just like on the album. Some of the jam parts were even extended allowing longer guitar and bass solos. Drunkship of Lanterns was up next. The intro was a little different live, but recognizable. I was bummed there was no siren though. As soon as the drum roll came in we were hit like a brick wall of sound. Cedric played with the mic stand a lot during the whole set. Often he would hold it from the bottom and raise it to the ceiling - sometimes even hitting the mic on the ceiling. He even threw the mic stand so that it did a full 360 in the air and it almost hit him on the head. The people around me were getting on my nerves (as usual) and at this point i was paying more attention to the people than to the band. I decided to move back quite a back so I could see the band better. It worked. To all of you tall kids, you should learn to be a little conciderate. And those of you with dreadlocks. There's nothing sicker than getting a mouthful of that crap when standing behind you.
Eriatarka was up next. This song was great live. I like how it starts soft and then it starts to rock. One of the best things about this show was the sound - you could hear everything. It was perfect. I am thankful I brought earplugs though - it was really loud. Cicatriz ESP was next and they played all 12 minutes (or however long it is) complete with the spacey interlude. This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed followed. I was a little worried that the stuff Ikey was doing was gonna get covered up during the show, but it was fine. Televators and Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt were the best songs of the night. Cedric's voice was amazing during Televators. I am glad he has the oppurtunity to sing like that now with The Mars Volta - I had no idea he had such a voice. I almost want to describe it as beautiful. It was nice to cool down to this song. Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt is my favorite song on the album and it was even better live. The crowd was really liking it too. During the "solo" section in the middle of the song, the entire band but the bassist left the stage. He played an amazing solo that was probably around 5 minutes long. I didn't know you could do things on a bass like this guy could do... The band came back in. Omar's guitar playing at this point was really interesting. I also had no idea that he was THAT good before Mars Volta. Cedric seemed really into it after he came back. He proceeded to swing the mic and smash it into the ground many times (after hitting the crash cymbals with it earlier in the night). He tried howling into it again but it was broke so he tossed it into the audience. They finished the song out which completed the album and the concert. What a night.
That night proved that the Mars Volta is probably the most important band right now. Don't miss them when they come around again.