I had a great week of music last week, culminating with a double dose (of music) on NYE.
I started my run on the 27th with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra late show at Oakland Yoshi's and it was a blast.
Then Friday the 28th was the first of two X shows at Slim's; they were AMAZING on Friday and a bit strained on Saturday, IMO. They generally don't tour, they just get together once or twice a year and play shows in SF and LA and they aren't spring chickens anymore, but all four members are great players and true rock stars in their own way and they tore it up on the 28th, playing their unique style of punk with rock-a-billy undertones. They are always fun and a great band to see in a dingy nightclub like Slim's - X ROCKS!!
On Sunday the 30th it was back to Yoshi's for another set with Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and they were really excellent again. True salsa music is so emotional, passionate & complex, and this band is the real deal, with amazing players and singers.
Their style of salsa involves a lot of improvisational playing and soloing, which is great because they have such good players, especially Jimmy Bosch on trombone - the best trombone player I have ever seen. He just WAILS on that horn!
What really makes the music soar though are the three amazing singers in this band, and the fact that apparently much of the singing is also improvised (it's all in Spanish so I never know what the hell they're singing, but it's always GREAT!). The songs all begin with hard driving beats and wailing horns, and then the singers just lift it off, passing the music back and forth between them. These guys are all big-time musicians and they're great to LISTEN to, but it's also music that ANYONE who professes to enjoy dancing can't help but love live.
Then on to NYE. I knew that Mars Volta at the Bill Graham Civic wasn't going to start until 11:30pm and were playing until 2:30am, so I was able to do what I had been hoping for; see Les Claypool at the Fillmore AND Mars Volta at the Civic!
I laid low that evening & started late, getting to the Fillmore around 11:00pm, got my ONE drink I'm allowed (I did stretch that just a bit) and immediately ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in a number of years. Let the party begin.
The energy in the sold-out room was festive but the music seemed a bit flat to me. Les was again playing with what I believe he calls The Fancy Band; the excellent Brain on drums, Gabby LaLa on sitar and Skerik on sax.
I've seen this band a number of times and I've enjoyed them in the past, but it really wasn't working for me this time (as much as I love Skerik this group needs a guitar player) but it was a total party, I was feeling real good and hanging with a number of friends, so when the midnight hour came and the balloons dropped it was a great feeling to be alive and celebrating once again in that very special 90 year old room. The Fillmore is a place that has SO much history, and where I have built up quite a bit of personal history myself, so it was really a very, very good time.
Probably because I wasn't high as a kite I was able to split the Fillmore around 12:30 and head over to the BGC. I got to my favorite spot in that venue, the very top of the balcony directly back from the stage, around 1:00am.
I'm a wordy son of a bitch, but I can't really describe Mars Volta well. To me they are a cross between Led Zeppelin & Rush, with a number of other early '70's hard rock influences, and yet they really don't sound or play like ANYONE I can think of; ultimately they are totally unique.
They are also LOUD and RELENTLESS!!! They play every song with a desperate, searing intensity that is fast, hard driving & physical, as if it will be the last song they'll ever play, and given the amount of energy they put into each song, that always seems possible.
There are quite a few members in the band, but for me it's really about the singer, the guitar player and the drummer. They are all INSANE! There is no way these guys will be able to keep up this style of play for too long, because all three burn like rockets blasting off for Mars. They are unreal.
The Mars Volta is extreme and definitely not for everyone, but they are totally worthy of respect because they do not compromise, they are doing THEIR thing and they are doing it 200% balls-to-the-wall.
It's the third time I've seen them and each time I've thought, "This is the type of band that would have been great in Winterland"..... because they invoke that raw early '70s rock vibe, while doing it completely in their own way. Anyone who loves heavy, psychedelic rock/metal should check these guys out, they are great.
It was an excellent rock concert and I left at 3:00am fully satisfied, feeling like I had rolled (and rocked) in 2008 in style.
Time marches on and the shows never end......
great review. sounds like quite a night.
I heard the guys from Chili Peppers were the extra guests....true?
>>>I heard the guys from Chili Peppers were the extra guests<<<
There was alot going on at the Mars Volta show before I got there, with opening acts, DJs and MV playing an earlier acoustic set, and I missed about an hour and a half of the electric set, so it's possible that happened, but I didn't notice any extras with them while I was there.
I'm not sure there's any room for extra guests with Volta anyway, and in all honesty I'm not sure the guys from the CP could keep up, and I like the Peppers.
Mars Volta just takes it to a different level.
The CP`s didn`t show.
They said they would but bailed at at the last second.
They didn`t need them anyway.
Nice review Lance.
So Wino, were you one of the many folks rocking out on the side of the stage?