I was watching Michael Jordan's induction speech into the NBA Hall of Fame, when I made a last minute decision to catch The Mars Volta at The Congress Theatre. After all, it was only a 15 minute walk to the venue from my place. I picked up a ticket at the box office and made my way to the balcony. This has to be my least favorite venue in Chicago. The sound is not very good and the biggest problem is that there is absolutely NO air circulation. Even though I sat in the balcony, I was sweating from the moment I got to my seat.
You can never be fully prepared for the musical trip that The Mars Volta take you on when they perform. They can go from 0-1000 at the drop of a dime. "Son Et Lumiere" kicked the show off and from the beginning the band meant business. In between the songs keyboard riffs drummer Thomas Pridgen's thunderous drum fills shook the entire building.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez used "Goliath" for his first extended guitar solo and with blistering speed delivered one of the best moments of the show. Lead vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala moved around the stage like a young James Brown.
As chaotic as the music can be at times, The Mars Volta are able to slow it down and add some psychedelia to their show. As "Roulette Dares (the haunt of)" came to and end the band cooled off for a bit for a very nice ambient jam. Keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens and Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez really shined during this song as their added textures really enhanced the ambient nature of the jam.
Channeling the spirit of Jimmy Page is what Omar Rodriguez-Lopez did during the jam in "Ilyena". The riff that he was playing was very similar to "Immigrant Song" and fit the song perfectly.
On several occasions during the night, drummer Thomas Pridgen used his brute force and took over the show. He looked like an octopus behind the drums with both of his arms just wailing away without missing a beat. The Mars Volta continue to create fresh music and if we are lucky the band will continue to grace us with some of the craziest, fastest, interesting and most beautiful music being made today.
The Mars Volta
The Congress Theatre
Son Et Lumiere
Halo Of Nembutals
Drunkship Of Lanterns