Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom Chicago - Sat 10/8/22
The Mars Volta, currently traversing the states with their "The Mars Volta Tour 2022", which began in mid / late September.
With a stop on Saturday at the Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.
And the place was rowdy.
Maybe because it's a Saturday night.
Maybe because it's the month of October.
Maybe because people are frothing at the bit for The Mars Volta performing live in Chicago, which the last time through town, seems like ages ago.
Maybe it was a combination thereof.
I bring all of this up because of the band photo policies- which for one included they do not want any photographers in the actual photo pit in front of the stage any time.
Not that they would notice, what with the Aragon stage being so high- around 7 to 8 feet.
It's their policies - their rules.
But that crowd on Saturday night- rowdy and unruly, even by the main floor bar stage left / audience right where I was perched.
Thought this would be a safe place to cover the three songs allotted.
Have to say for a seasoned photographer like myself, I can hold my ground, and accept whatever circumstances get thrown my way.
Put it this way- no place was safe on the main floor of the Aragon for Cedric and Omar of the Mars Volta.
Loved the feel of the energy of the place, and the sudden heat coming off the main floor when they came out, building up steam with the opener "Vicarious Atonement" from "Amputechture"- a heavy and slow build of a song, then into the barnburner "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)", from the most represented album of the evening- "De- Loused in the Comatorium", from 2003 - some seven songs total throughout their set.
Obviously this album has made am impression on them, clearly noting that it's a fan favorite, and as such, must be played.
Sharp guys, Omar and Cedric.
Stylish, the both of them, Cedric in nice black suit and blazer, Omar looking cool as always, with his fedora stylishly placed on the side of his head, and cradling his guitar passionately when immersed in whichever song, even when not playing a note.
These guys are passionate as all get out, embracing their songwriting with such honesty, as if they created all their songs yesterday.
The whole evening, band members included, carried this vibe.
Only two songs made the cut from their latest release from this year "The Mars Volta"- "Graveyard Love", and "Blacklight Shine".
Both songs are cool, and matter of fact, after repeated listens, I find the album with a chill and subdued vibe that grows on you.
But volatility- that clearly belongs to anything and everything from "De- Loused at the Comatorium".
Witnessing the main floor at the Aragon- it was banshee / gremlin heavy duty nutty.
And the smiles coming from Cedric in response- he has to stop briefly and take it all in- Chicago on Saturday night with an oh so revered band-
Makes things unforgettable.
That's the vibe I get from Cedric mid show to close.
Yes- the musicianship was jaw dropping, meticulous to a "T", followed by full throated Cedric, in fine form, in wailing form, brandishing about, swinging his microphone, or testing the limits of his microphone stand with stress and pull.
The band- consisting of heavy hitters Marcel Rodriguez- Lopez on percussion / synths and keyboards, Linda- Philomene Tsoungui on drums, Leo Genovese on keyboards/ synths and saxophone, and Josh Moreau of Hoobastank filling in rather nicely on bass for Eva Gardner.
This band is tight folks, and it's my impression that Omar in particular has a vision- and it's rehearsals on top of rehearsals, followed by solid musicianship, which anything Mars Volta related is needed without coming off second rate.
Complex noise delivers on all counts.
Everything about their show at the Aragon was just so locked in, beyond what I photographed from the first three songs.
Had to roam around the venue a bit just to take it all in, the crowd, the spectacle, the overall appearance of the stage and stagecraft and lighting.
Such a memorable evening with these guys from beginning to end.
And it seemed it was over in a flash- trailblazing through the last 4 songs of the evening from all things "De- Loused'- from "Cicatriz ESP", to "Televators", into "Son et lumiere", and lastly with "Intertiatic ESP".
As great a capstone as those four songs- you just didn't want to leave.
You just didn't want this show to end.
Roaring and fire burning live shows like this are rare indeed.
You have to have a band that's up for the challenge.
They have to be forward thinkers.
Clearly The Mars Volta has all this in spades.
As for opener Teri Gender Bender- she clearly has her heart and passion in the right place as well.
Set to a minimal stage real estate wise, she makes do with she's got with contortionist poses, along with a fierce delivery vocal wise, no different with her other occupation in fronting all things Le Buthcherettes.
Although her set was rather brief, she more than made up for the short time slot by singing and performing like her life depended on it.
A great and memorable evening, without a doubt.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
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