Live Review: Emerging from the Mars Volta and ATDI, Antemasque form their own sonic identity

Credit: Michael Fitzhenry

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t can be an amazing sight when seasoned music vets create something new and it turns out to be some of the best sounds you’ve ever heard. Tuesday night in the former Cambridge bowling alley now known as the Middle East Downstairs, Antemasque took things to new heights and blew minds all over the room. The new band, lead by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and frontman Cedric Bixler Zavala from At The Drive-In and the Mars Volta, has had a buzz building since Antemasque’s spectacular debut album leaked this past summer. With the band’s self-titled record getting an official release this week, there was a sense the excitement among everyone in attendance. And it spread like infectious disease.

Starting things off, Mexican punk band Le Butcherettes had a lot of intensity throughout their performance that cast an invigorating sheen. At one point Teri Gender Bender was singing through her temple as her mic was pressed against her head, a pretty manic sight to witness. On top of yelling in a Patti Smith like fashion, it was downright scary seeing her channeling these countless amount of rock and roll demons with her stage presence. Starting off with Gender Bender on piano and switching to the classic power trio set up with guitar, bass and drums on “Demon Stuck In Your Eye” was a punk rager with headbanging abundant in the front rows.

“I’m Getting Sick Of You” sounded like something out of the depths of hell, exuding Sabbath-esque sludge with the singer channeling Dio on vocals. Right on the middle of the song there was this bass heavy jam session that had everyone movin’ and groovin’ with a little crowd surfing involved. With versatility and sheer emphasism, Le Butcherettes ignited a fire that was sure to last for the rest of the night.


After hugging the drunkest fun loving guy ever on the sidewalk (who also managed to hug everyone else at the Middle East that night), I went back downstairs where the sold out crowd was awaiting Antemasque. Things were about to get crazy and everyone was feverishly anticipating the awesomeness. Kicking it off with “In The Lurch,” people started going batshit crazy right from the get go.

Jumping up and down like pogo sticks, hands up in the air, Antemasque brought it with full force. “4AM” had the crowd shouting along with Zavala with every lyric like prophets to a saint. When “I Got No Remorse” took things over, an all-out mosh pit erupted, and you could feel the pandemonium bouncing off the walls. While watching “Ride Like The Devil’s Son” being performed from the bar, some guy had a soy bomb moment while every one else was basking in amazement. Antemasque then hit it with “Providence” for a sonic barrage that had a ridiculous solo from Rodriguez Lopez setting the stage ablaze.

Unpredictably, Antemasque went into a psychedelic breakdown that calmed nerves and warmed hearts, then got louder and louder to be the most electrifying moment of the night. To be honest, it reminded me a lot of watching Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same on TV for the first time. Simply spectacular; and then they went back into the chorus to finish the song off like it was old hat.


As if another jam session wasn’t enough, Rodriguez-Lopez took people to church with a scorching solo during “People Forget,” stupendously brilliant and it made my jaw drop for the eighth time. Finishing it off with Zavala reciting a quote from Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, “So long and thanks for all the fish,” it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in Massachusetts.

Antemasque photo by Michael Fitzhenry of Massive Central, @m_fitzhenry