SOMETHING DIFFERENT AT THE KEY: MARS VOLTA, SYSTEM OF A DOWN
By Travis Hay

Seattle Post Intelligencer , WA
Oct 6 2005

Special To The Post-Intelligencer

It was a bill that could only be described as Armenian-metal and
prog-rock heaven Wednesday night at KeyArena with two of rock's most
volatile and exciting acts, The Mars Volta and System of a Down,
playing powerful and entertaining sets.

MUSIC REVIEW System of a Down and The Mars Volta WHERE: KeyArena WHEN:
Wednesday night

Armenian quartet System of a Down -- vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist
Daron Malakian, drummer John Dolmayan and bassist Shavo Odadjian --
headlined with two hours of aggressive, intelligent and intense metal,
most of which came from its latest record "Mesmerize."

Opening with "Soldier Side" and following with the politically
chastising "B.Y.O.B.," the band kicked it into fifth gear from the
start and didn't stop until its set was finished.

Odadjian's braided beard spun through the air as he thrashed his
head from side-to-side and waved his arms in the air as if he were
conducting the mosh pit from the stage during "Psycho." Tankian made
devilish clown faces while singing and his playfully demonic vocals
were spot on the entire night, especially during the band's hits
"Chop Suey!," "Toxicicty" and "Aerials." As much fun as those two
were to watch, it was Malakian who was the most enjoyable to pay
attention to. His animated gestures, short stature and greasy hair
made him look like a heavy metal Squiggy.

Eight-piece experimental-progressive metal group The Mars Volta played
an awe-inspiring five-song set that lasted an hour. The closest thing
to a modern-day Pink Floyd, the group's Latin-tinged music is tough
to describe. However, with an extreme assortment of instruments and
a charismatic singer whose vocals come in the form of a forceful
falsetto, the band is perhaps the most promising act in rock.

What holds back The Mars Volta are its quasi-conceptual records,
bilingual lyrics and loosely structured songs, many without hooks;
they're a band you either get or don't. Besides the standard drums,
bass and guitar, the instrumentation included maracas, cow bell,
saxophones, keyboards and a flute. Not since Jethro Tull's heyday
has a flute rocked so hard onstage.

Singer Cedric Bixler let his body move wherever the music took
him, showcasing perhaps the best dance moves in rock while his
partner-in-crime, guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, led seamless
transitions between songs. The set was part jazz, part progressive
rock and part indescribable and it nearly stole the show.