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Last Night: The Mars Volta at Palladium Ballroom

The Mars Volta at the Palladium Ballroom Tuesday, April 8.
The Mars Volta April 8, 2008 Palladium Ballroom

Better Than: Listening to your old At The Drive In discs.

I was damn excited when this show was announced in February. Damn excited. I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing The Mars Volta since the band toured touting Frances The Mute. At the time, the band's live jam session jaunts left some crowd members confused. That's no longer the case. At the sold-out Palladium show, the prog rock band commanded the crowd's attention for its entire two-hour performance.

The skinny boys clad in all black kept the packed house cheering song after song. The majority of the audience not only rejoiced for the favorites, but was also well-versed in the new songs off The Bedlam in Goliath. And while most songs aren't exactly dance-worthy, the most of those in the crowd were spotted swaying their hips slightly on and off all night. As The Mars Volta busted out its traditional cerebral jams, one could see audience members' eyes darting all over, as if trying to spot the acrobatic sound swirling above.

One of the things that makes seeing The Mars Volta in concert such a treat is the band's ability to recreate its recorded sound. I was particularly impressed by saxophone and bass clarinet player Adrián Terrazas-González and percussionist Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez. Each accentuated Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar, providing more power to the sound, whilst Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals bring the soul to the songs.

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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was spotted grinning from ear-to-ear several times while he worked his fretboard. At the same time Bixler-Zavala was constantly shimmying around the stage. Both band founders and the rest of the group were clearly loving being on stage. Their fun rubbed off on the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in front of the stage, making the shared experience feel more intimate. -- Chelsea Ide

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: No big bias. I've liked The Mars Volta for a long time, but, as you know, I hadn't seen them live in two or three years.

Random Moment: The crowd was varied at the Palladium show. I spotted art nerds and bro dudes and everyone in between. I didn't really much care for the three bro dudes in front of me, who were double-fisting beer and attempting to dance to slower songs. However, overall, the crowd was pretty great.

By The Way: Those who missed out on the show can drive on down to Austin to see the band Thursday, April 10, at Austin Music Hall.

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