The Mars Volta | 04.15.08 | Oklahoma

Words by: David Basteri | Images from:

The Mars Volta :: 04.15.08 :: Cain's Ballroom :: Tulsa, OK

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez :: The Mars Volta
A collective fever of anticipation, quiet, reserved desperation and a distinct lack of eye contact spread through Tulsa's legendary Cain's Ballroom like nothing I have ever witnessed at the famed venue. The show hadn't even started, yet The Mars Volta had "spiked the punch," so to speak, and colored the crowd with its own version of psychedelic giddy-up well before they even took the stage.

While not completely sold out, the old Ballroom was teeming with a cheery cross-section of fans, politely and respectfully chomping at the bit for their own private psychedelic reel to begin. Perhaps by cosmic coincidence, the crowd's chants of "Volta, Volta, Volta" brought our heroes out, arriving to piped-in theme music (like any good superhero), and our "Evening with The Mars Volta" began...

The Mars Volta has done a fine job of cultivating its rabid, hyper attentive fanbase, drawn in by the passion and technical wizardry the Volta bring to the table, album after album, show after show. The fervor and acute, discerning ears and minds of the band's audience were tuned in, hard, but so too were The Mars Volta.

Tuned into what? The voices in their heads? In your head? The Soothsayer? Yeah, Oujia boards be damned and all that mumbo jumbo that's been permeating much of the press on The Mars Volta lately with tales of mental duress, floods, disappearing studio tracks while recording their latest record (The Bedlam In Goliath) and communicating with multiple dead personalities. The point is The Mars Volta listens, intently. And when artists like Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar/producer) and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals) really listen, well, you get what we had here in sunny Oklahoma on a splendid Green Country evening – acid rock for the soul.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala :: The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta Group - as they refer to the collective who perform live and in the studio - took the stage to a raucous ovation, good vibrations and ear-to-ear smiles. Waving as they strolled and bounced, almost skipping, to their respective instruments on the jam-packed stage, the band looked and acted as if they truly relished the moment, grinning about the aural explosions and auditory tricks and treats they would seconds later unleash on the audience like raw meat to a pack of hungry wolves. Formalities aside, the band chose their weapons, looked around for a moment that seemed like a year, smiled and proceeded with its patented shamanic onslaught. Reaching back to their first album, 2003's De-Loused In The Comatorium, they unleashed "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)," whose first ten seconds belied the fury and fire that lay within, exploding in furious tempo changes then plummeting back down to sweet ballad-like urgency the next moment. At almost ten minutes, the crowd pleaser had everyone singing and bobbing along amoeba-style, rubbing exoskeletons together in some sort of ecstatic group groove/freakout, a post-traumatic, psychedelic cleanse.

This was not my first rodeo with The Mars Volta, having had the brief pleasure of their company a few years back opening for A Perfect Circle, and it must be noted that the band has indeed grown better with time. Maybe it was the opening slot for a very famous band, but that first encounter was rife with frantic stage energy and an almost obligatory "rush" through their songs. Please, do not misunderstand me. It rocked! Bixler-Zavala channeled all the weirdness and energy of every dead and undead frontman ever, whilst whistling his tunes and swoon dancing. He treated his microphone and mic stand like a redheaded stepchild, twirling and twisting like a really gifted but wholly demented psychopath. He even kept apologizing (after almost every single song!) and promising Maynard and A Perfect Circle would be on soon. That was then, and this night as the headliner required no apologies.

The Mars Volta
"That night I remember what you slipped in my glass," sang Bixler-Zavala. The band followed the opener with a rousing version of "Viscera Eyes" before getting to the meat of the show - the new songs from The Bedlam In Goliath. Ripping into the first (and only?) radio single from Bedlam, "Wax Simulacra," The Volta seemed to swagger even more than before with the joy and exuberance of a five-year old's sense of wonder as they broke it down and unleashed "Goliath" in album sequence. "All the days of my life/ Ever since I've been born/ Never heard a man speak like this man before."

Smiles abounded and spread like wild fire, from the band to the crowd, as fast and as furious as the newest member, extraterrestrial drummer Thomas Pridgen, pummeled his skins. Kinetic time-changes were both inherently felt by the musicians and issued through hand signals that Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala used to conduct and communicate with their close-knit group of hired guns. The quiet subtlety the band played with for the first three songs was gone in the blink of a wizard's eye, and they molested and assaulted what followed with serious vigor, hanging from the rafters, performing demented calisthenics and generally daring you, the listener, to go further and ride their deliciously twisted spiral.

A spirited, delirious 15-plus minute "Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus" from Frances The Mute and a shocking "Aberinkula" closed the show nicely after they played for almost THREE hours, with no break and, true to form, no encore. No fancy visuals, no pretentious bullshit, just a balls-out, freaked-out rock 'n' roll evening with The Mars Volta.

04.15.08 :: Cain's Ballroom :: Tulsa, OK
Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of), Viscera Eyes, Wax Simulacra, Goliath, Ouroborous, Tetragrammaton, Agadaz, Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus, Aberinkula

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[Published on: 4/23/08]

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ripped starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/23/2008 06:30PM
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their 4/20 show in Chicago was top notch... im sure this one was too

Muffinman1 Wed 4/23/2008 06:48PM
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"the crowd pleaser had everyone singing and bobbing along amoeba-style, rubbing exoskeletons together in some sort of ecstatic group groove/freakout, a post-traumatic, psychedelic cleanse."- Now that sounds like my kind of show!!!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/23/2008 07:10PM
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Pure genius. These guys are studs....

ratdog85 Wed 4/23/2008 07:32PM
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both columbus, ohio dates were called off the day of the that

MusicIsGood Wed 4/23/2008 07:49PM
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I heard about that columbus shit. Sucks. I bet you'll get a crazy show when they come back.

I'm very excited for toronto

MKIVPhishHead starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/23/2008 09:32PM
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Ya I was going to go to Atlanta but that one was cancelled due to the venue apparently burning down...I also caught them open for A Perfect Circle and at Vegoose. Both shows were fabulous. They definitely know how to do what they do.

BungledMorphine Thu 4/24/2008 07:02AM
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Saw the show on 4-21 in MN and it was awesome. Better than when I saw them supporting Frances. Looks to be the same setlist every show this tour. Great stuff. Great band.

thedude3 Thu 4/24/2008 08:33AM
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Just caught the St. Louis show this past Thursday after seeing them in K.C. a couple months ago and this St. Louis show blew K.C. show out of the water. 3 doses and the Mars Volta = total mind fuck

Conjugal Burning starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/24/2008 08:58AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning

First off awesome review! It breaks my heart reading such an enjoyable show 3 days before they cancel c-bus when the doors were supposed to open. Second cancellation hurts that much more when reading of other positive feedback from shows after they told us Ohioans to Cum-blow-us, damn neer starting a riot. On a different note, those pics are obviously not from the Tulsa show since you can see Jon Theodore drumming back there, not T.P... is this normal from show reviews on jambase? archived pics for different show reviews? just curious

Conjugal Burning Thu 4/24/2008 09:05AM
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Conjugal Burning

There is a break in their dates at the beginning of July... Rothbury addition??

KPLMMJ starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/24/2008 09:36AM
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Sucks they cancelled Atlanta. Not their fault though. The tabernacle DID NOT burn down....dont know where the hell that came from. Closed after severe water damage from the tornado a month ago. Saw them play there 3 years ago when Jon Theodore was in the band....UNREAL.

phanatic2 starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/24/2008 08:18PM
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saw them in Providence this past february and was blown away, hope they announce a show sometime at the Calvin Theatre up in New England,..Nice review

z man starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/25/2008 05:19PM
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I was going to attend the first columbus show but wanted someone to make the Trip with me, to no avail. So I didnt go and it got canceled and I felt alright. Sorry everybody. I wonder why it was canceled? I love these guys but sometimes Im in the mood for some Jim Croce. Hope everyone gets to check them out this summer because they are as raw as it gets.

msd413886669 starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/30/2008 07:30AM
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Hell Yeah Great Review. Conjugal Burning is very right. That's one of the first things I noticed too. Good eye man. I'm still sick to my stomach that I missed the show in Miami. I flew to Michigan from Ft. Lauderdale to watch Volta open for the Peppers, (amazing show by the way) and I didn't even get to see them when the were a measly thirty minute drive up the road. So Sad. But this was a great show I'm sure. These guys have never let me down. Can't wait for the next installment.

bassdrum200 Sat 5/3/2008 10:18PM
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"Images from myspace"...not common for any jambase review btw

amayam Tue 5/13/2008 09:36PM
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oh man, sucks bro ... the show in miami was killer. I've driven 12 hours to see them before and this time they were literally across the street from me. Thomas Pidgeon was yelling out the dressing room before the show asking me if I had any good trees. Classic.

msd413886669 Fri 5/16/2008 10:50AM
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Damn it! I hate the fact that I didn't make it. This new record is sick as hell. I'm sure the show was bad ass. Well I dont think they'll be breaking up anytime soon, so hopefully I'll see another great show someday.