Antemasque Wrap Debut Tour With Energetic Set At The Roxy

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala performing with Antemasque
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala performing with Antemasque

Note: This review was originally written for another publication three weeks ago. That website never published it nor did they ever inform me as to why they didn’t publish it despite previously accepting the pitch. In the industry, we call this situation “bullshit.” So I’m publishing it here.

The concert at The Roxy in Hollywood this past Wednesday, August 13th was a homecoming and a public display of reconciliation for singer Cedric Bixler Zavala and guitarist/producer Omar Rodriguez Lopez, the founding members of Antemasque, who wrapped their debut US tour that night. The duo had been here before 14 years ago with At The Drive-In as the opening act for Rage Against The Machine.

A lot happened during that time. Zavala and Lopez left hardcore outfit At The Drive-In and formed the much more experimental The Mars Volta a year after that show. That much-loved, Grammy winning band came to a sudden end in 2013 when Zavala lashed out against Lopez on Twitter and officially ended TMV. Two lifelong friends were suddenly enemies much like Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

But then, earlier this year, the two reconciled and announced Antemasque, their new project together. They quickly released their debut self-titled album online and announced their first tour featuring Le Butcherettes as the opening act.

If anyone ever had any doubt as to the duo’s reconciliation, those doubts were put to rest the instance Antemasque stepped foot on the stage. Zavala and Lopez, flanked by drummer Dave Elitch and Lopez’s brother Marfred on bass, performed together as they have for years.

If there’s one word to describe Antemasque, that word is “freedom.” The duo have long been tied down to one genre or another for much of their careers: Hardcore Rock/Punk with ATDI, Dub with short-lived project De Facto, and Progressive Rock with TMV. As Antemasque, they’re free to do as they wish jumping from Classic Rock to Pop-Punk/Pop-Rock to Punk to Acoustic ballads.

Age has yet to slow Zavala down as he jumped, shimmied, leapt off Elitch’s drum kit, and smashed his cymbals on the floor as he’s done since his days with ATDI. Lopez joined on backup vocals a few times throughout the hour-long set where the band played all but one song from their debut album. They performed an untitled new song in its place.

Lopez, who in the past had a reputation for noodly guitar antics, kept the guitar solos to a minimum until the second-to-last song of the night, “Providence.” Halfway through the song, the band gave its Volta fans a nod with a drawn-out jam session during which Zavala ad-libbed new lyrics on the fly.

Openers Le Butcherettes set the tone for the night as singer/guitarist/keyboardist Teri Gender Bender (Teresa Suarez), drummer Lia Braswell, and tour bassist Chris Commons fired up the crowd for an hour playing a mix of tracks from their latest album, Cry Is For The Flies, and their debut, Sin Sin Sin.

Getting Paid: An Interview with Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez of Sci-Fi Funk Group Zechs Marquise

Imagine a soundtrack for a blaxploitation film starring Shaft in outer space and you’ll have an idea of what Zechs Marquise’s second album, Getting Paid, sounds like. The album is a harder, funkier successor to the group’s full-length debut Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare, which favored ambience and mellow dub.

I spoke with bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez over the phone about the album as well as a number of other topics including why the band is playing at a strip club in Hollywood, bass lines in latin cumbias and west coast hip-hop, Japanese anime, the period of time the band was named Mastodon, and a certain famous sibling.

(l - r) Marcos Smith, Matthew Wilkinson, Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez and Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez

So you have a few shows coming up next week.

We actually start on Saturday. We have one here [in El Paso] and then the next one is in Mesa [AZ]. Then we play L.A., then San Diego, then L.A. again.

I was looking at those shows and I see you guys are playing at Cheetahs. How’d THAT happen?

We have a friend who books bands there and he saw that we were coming out and had a day off. And he’s like “It’s this bikini bar!” and the reason why we took it is because there’s no cover and we get to play all of our stuff. So we thought, cool, we’ll have one free show and one where people have to pay. We’re kind of interested in seeing how that works out.

Yeah, I read that and thought “When did Cheetahs start booking bands?”

[laughs] So is it like a bikini bar or like a strip club? I’ve been told it’s both, kind of.

I was there once for a friend’s birthday. It’s not a full-on strip club but you can get lap dances and all that.

Like a middle ground? [laughs]

Yeah, that’s why when I read about that show, I went “huh?”

That’s weird, yeah. [laughs] We thought the same thing too.

And then you guys are playing at Low End Theory later.

Yeah, we haven’t played Low End in like two years and we used to try to do it at least twice a year. Over the last few years, we never had a chance to schedule a Low End show, especially with how we’ve grown over the past couple of years, but we definitely like playing there. I think they’ve only had a couple of rock bands play there but all the residents there consider us residents so that’s cool considering that we don’t live in L.A.

The first time we did Low End we opened for Daedalus and Busdriver. We were totally stoked on that because we’ve been fans of Busdriver for so long.

And you’re actually playing two shows in El Paso.

Yeah, we have another one in October [at La Parada]. I guess it would be the equivalent of El Paso’s Low End Theory. It’s the first Friday of every month at the San Carlos building, which is a building a huge courtyard. They have lots of stores and stuff and they let these guys rent the whole space once a month with a few dj’s and live art. Sometimes they have a dance troupe play, they’ll have a band play, it’s really cool. We’re booking it as our vinyl release party since we’re playing two shows in El Paso so close together and because it’s mostly a vinyl culture as it is.

Are you going to add more tour dates?

We have a tour coming up in November. As soon as the routing and dates are locked down, we’ll be announcing those. The only reason we’re doing this one so short is because it’s right when the record comes out. We want to get out, play a few shows and give it some time to circulate for a minute before heading back out again.

Let it percolate for a bit?

Yeah, exactly. Let it settle with people. It’ll be nice to do these shows. The way it worked out was great with Low End capping it off and [brother/drummer] Marcel [Rodriguez-Lopez]’s birthday is the following day on the 29th so to come back home after releasing the record, especially after how long and how hard we’ve been working on it, it’ll be nice.

Continue reading “Getting Paid: An Interview with Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez of Sci-Fi Funk Group Zechs Marquise”