While Austin's music scene is well documented, El Paso has their own vibrant scene as evidenced by the sold-out crowd on hand at The Mohawk Sunday for ANTEMASQUE. The new band is an offshoot of the now defunct The Mars Volta, led by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, an El Paso native. Nadie Sound (Rodriguez-Lopez's record company) label mates, Le Butcherettes opened the early-evening show in front of a nearly full venue despite the early set time (7:30 p.m.).
The ANTEMASQUE Austin performance was the band's second show in their short history, following their live debut in San Antonio on Saturday. The large audience turnout confirmed that projects involving The Mars Volta alumni attract a rabid audience. From the prog-punk of At the Drive In to prog-psych of The Mars Volta to the current formation that includes past project vet Dave Elitch on drums, these musicians strike a chord with concertgoers.
Vocalist, Cedric Bixler-Zavala sported a sunburst afro, black slacks and a matching collared shirt as he cavorted around the stage screaming lyrics more reminiscent of Vince Neil than his work with their previous projects. With a song entitled, "Ride Like the Devil's Son" that may be as apt a comparison as one could expect. Perhaps that unpredictability is part of the massive fan interest in these artists? Rodriguez-Lopez maintained his trademark understated presence during the performance, seeming to hold back a bit early in the set.
As the band settled into a groove, fans began crowd-surfing, slam dancing and generally whipped themselves into a frenzy. Several tracks ("Hangin in the Lurch", "No Remorse", "Rome Armed to the Teeth"), from the eponymous debut album featuring Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Atoms for Peace) on bass sound more like Motley Crue with a prog-rock bent. Elitch furiously banged on his kit for the first half of the gig.
ANTEMASQUE took it down a notch with "4 a.m." and the first single they released, "Drown All Your Witches." The latter features a harmonic chorus with a legitimate hook. It is no surprise the band decided to make this the first song released. It is a great tune and allows Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez to flaunt their ability to beautifully harmonize over pleasing guitar riffs.
The set ended on a high note with "People Forget." The rhythm-driven finisher featured exceptional work by Elitch and touring bassist, Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez (Zechs Marquise). Bixler-Zavala cavorted across the stage as the crowd was whipped into a final frenzy. Like true rock stars, ANTEMASQUE left the stage with fans wanting more.
Stream the entire debut ANTEMASQUE album on YouTube. Select songs are currently available on iTunes.
In the Lurch
I Got No Remorse
Rome Armed To The Teeth
Ride Like The Devil's Son
Drown All Your Witches
Special thanks to Bianca Flores.