If there's really such a notion as "too much of good thing", The Mars Volta surely have never heard of it. Hardly a month after playing a somewhat secret show for their fans at the Echoplex, the gave us Los Angelenos yet another intimate performance albeit amongst camera booms and scripted applause at the Nissan Live Sets Stage for Yahoo! Live Events.
The lucky 200 fans were shuttled to the stage at Fox Studios in Century City during the strict time frame of 5-6:15 pm (I ended up on the second to last one thanks to work). After a pat-down and wanding check that would make Homeland Security proud, my roommate and I entered the sound stage to the tune of Muse's Knights Of Cydonia and raucous applause and rocking out. Of course, Yahoo! just needed to make sure they had enough stock footage of Volta fans clapping and grooving but there were more eyes rolling in this room than in Jim Jones' compound.
My jaw dropped when I saw the acoustic guitars brought on stage. This was to be the second time the band had ever performed an acoustic set-the first being New Years Eve. The studio unfortunately chose the most disinterested fan possible to introduce the band. She could barely muster a glint of enthusiasm when the mic was put in her face to say "The Maaaaaars Volta!". She was more like "themarsvolta". Nonetheless, Omar, Pablo, and Cedric the Forehead (that's the sig I've got from him) emerged seconds later.
Again, cue clapping. More clapping. Don't you like themarsvolta? Ok, we've got enough clapping. The band looked a little awkward but proceeded to settle into thier stools. The Acoustic set consisted of Miranda...This Ghost Isn't Holy Anymore, Asilos Magdalena, and Televators. It was absolutely enchanting. Cedric's vocals were spot on. Televators has to have some of my favorite lyrics of any songs ever-"someday this chalk outline will circle this city".
Q&A followed The Mars Volta Unplugged set. A few scripted questions read by nervous fans to an uncomfortable band is always a good time. "How does Latin Music incorporate itself into your music and how do you make it your own?" Come on. the best question was asked by my friend Michelle, "What pop music do you listen to as a guilty pleasure?" Omar joked Coldplay, Cedric defended them as nice guys even though he doesn't like the music. Someone in the audience yelled "Sparta" and Cedric defended them as his brothers. Someone definitely wore their magnanimous pants this evening.
After Q&A, the rest of the band (who were sitting a few feet away from me the entire acoustic set watching) joined the deers in headlights on stage for a fully electrified set. The band began with Roulette Dares, then Viscera Eyes followed by the new single Wax Simulacra. Beyond that song everything they played felt like a bonus after all we had seen already. They continued on with new tracks Goliath and Ouruboros. After they finished Ouruboros, Cedric asked the producer how much time they had left. Apparently they still had about 20 minutes as they proceeded to play the epic Tetragrammaton which clocks in above the 15 minute...and that's if it's played fast.
Then, abruptly upon the end of Tetra, Cedric said "I think we're gonna stop playing now. Thank you." and they all left the stage. And we all woke up from our dream and are still debating whether or not that amazing event was all just in our head.
Check out Yahoo! Live Events on February 15th for the debut of this performance.