Mars Volta : West Hollywood The Troubadour

The next episode in the saga of At The Drive-In...

So it comes to this – the closing chapter for At The Drive-In. Sparta may have created a few ripples, but this is what everyone has been waiting for: the return of the twin towers, Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez.

If you’re expecting ATD-I Mk II, think again. Maybe not as far out as Omar and Cedric’s dub project Defacto, it’s still close. Dub punk? Space punk? Mars Volta defy description. Omar’s trademark jagged guitar is evident in small doses, but it’s immersed in a schizophrenic sprawl of heavy bass and trippy space rock – instead of amps set at 11, it’s the echo chamber that’s in overdrive.

It’s basically prog rock. Over 40 minutes they play just six songs, each straying into freeform improvisation, sounding like someone’s been double dipping in the peyote jar. ‘Roulette Dares’ starts out with a cascade of thundering drums and biting guitar, before morphing into a ballad and ending with a messy bass heavy jam and loops of squealing feedback. At least The Clash’s excursions from punk to dub were focused.

They’re still exhilarating to watch, though. As Omar wrenches out ear-splitting shards of noise, whirling his guitar around his head, Cedric leaps about the stage, wrapping himself in the microphone cord and oozing primal sex appeal. But turning their back on ATD-I’s fans – the same ones who’ve come out tonight – the pair seem quite scornful. When one hopeful soul requests ‘One Armed Scissor’, Omar snaps, &quotI can put you in an emo concentration camp with a box of Kleenex. Then all you white kids will really have something to cry about.”

Jason Reynolds