Oct. 9, 2003

The Mars Volta Plans To Rock the Riviera

By Randy J. Klodz

Sure the Mars Volta may include members of the now-defunct punk-rock band At the Drive In, but with one listen to the band’s debut “De-Loused in the Comatorium,” music fans soon realize the band’s members are the only link to the former line-up. Heralded by bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters, the Mars Volta will once again display its brand of rock to Chicago, when the band plays the Riviera Theatre on Oct. 14.

The Mars Volta, which includes Cedric Zavala on vocals, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on guitar, Juan Alderete on bass, Jon Theodore on drums and Isaiah Owens on keyboards, released “De-Loused in the Comatorium” in June and fans, has had members of other bands and all forms of media raving about them for months.

And while the band had been receiving positive reviews and probably could have done their own headlining theatre tour upon the release of the album, the Mars Volta chose to accept a more humbling opening slot for this summer’s tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A band opening for a largely successful band instead of headlining its own tour presents a challenge, a challenge that the Mars Volta were more than willing to accept, explained guitarist Rodriguez-Lopez.

“On a certain level it’s really easy to play for 500 people who all know your music and are excited to have you there,” he said. “There’s a certain feeling in the room. It’s a completely different thing to go in front of 9,000 strangers who don’t know who you are, who don’t care who you are and are really anxious to hear the band after you.”

The music of the Mars Volta is hard to pigeonhole into a specific musical genre. It’s often heavy and slow in the same minute, yet it’s not punk and it’s not metal. “Inertiatic ESP” begins with Zavala’s blasting lyrics “Now I’m lost,” then the lyrics slow, then explode again behind a the guitar fury of Rodriguez-Lopez, quick drum work by Theodore and Owens’ keyboard bounce. Zavala’s telling lyrics “You’ll be the first and last to know” end the song, leaving a mysterious element for all to discover this band.

The Riviera Theatre is at 4746 N. Racine Ave. Tickets for this 18+ show are listed for $15 each, with a show time slated for 7 p.m. The acclaimed poet Saul Williams is scheduled to warm the stage for the Mars Volta. For more information on the band, view www.themarsvolta.com.

The Mars Volta Photo: Universal Records