Which is to say, a late meeting and overconfident timing meant I only caught three songs in Mars Volta's 2-hour set last night at Hammerstein.
But what I heard of the packed show was great. Singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala pranced around in the best tradition of skinny rock dandies channeling JB's ecstatic dancing -- Robert Plant, Wayne Kramer and, yup, Beck.
I've concluded the real secret of the band -- beyond the wig-out craziness, the tight integration of all their influences -- is the booming rhythm section. Drummer Thomas Pridgen and Juan Alderete on bass ground the wild sparks of the fuzzing guitars.
This I think is why they overcome the iron-clad rule about prog rock: girls don't like it. Even more than other very macho forms -- metal, hardcore punk -- prog just doesn't translate to female ears. But these guys have a healthy female fan base.
Not to mention a big brown following. Saw more brown-black people than I'd seen at a rock show short of Morrissey. It was cool to see the Mexican flags draped over the band's speakers, the Puerto Rican flags in the audience, without nationalistic shout-outs (the mancha de plátano was just there, for those who wanted to see it).
[photo by jbeauchamp via Flickr]