Enmore Theatre, Enmore, Friday January 27, 2006
Cutting to the chase has always been one of my deepest personality flaws, but what the hell: The Mars Volta executed the best show of 2006 thus far.
The Mars Volta aren’t a band. They’re a cult. They’re a drug. They’re life. Reviewing a Mars Volta show is like reviewing an acid trip. You’re not sure when it started or exactly when it ended – in fact, time itself doesn’t seem to be working in a linear fashion at all – but you know it was awesome. I was there for five minutes. I was there for two days. I danced. I stood stock still. I was the happiest I’ve been in ages. I wept twice. With no set beginnings or endings to any of the “songs” played, the music produced by the guys onstage (helmed by Our Great Leaders Omar and Cedric) takes you through an intensely personal and emotional journey, at times slow and sexy, at times manic and unbridled, at times painfully heartbreaking. It astonishes me that these people can put themselves through the wringer like this more than once a year without collapsing from exhaustion, but for a band like The Mars Volta, you know that music isn’t a choice: it’s a survival mechanism. There is something desperate and animalistic about The Mars Volta, something primal that redefines the what and the why of music spectatorship, as well as something wholly unearthly, as the name suggests. For me, the highlight of this great, great night was an improvised musical conversation between Omar (guitar) and the Tenor Sax player Adrian Terrazas. It was the saddest thing I have ever heard. Without any words being spoken, these two players expressed the pain of life is capable of – grief so overbearing it crushes you, what it feels like to beg another human being for their forgiveness when your life depends on it, the exquisite pleasure of aching heartbreak and finally, hope. We are lucky there are people this brave making music.