At the Drive-In @ 9:30 Club - 3/20/2017

After being forced to cancel their previous date due to singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocal issues and a January announcement that the El Paso band would be releasing their first new album in 16 years, in•ter a•li•a,  it was clear that excitement was in the air at the 9:30 Club when they returned for the make up date. Armed with new songs and a whole lot of old favorites from their first three albums, their performance made it clear that even though the band and its fans have aged quite a bit since their last album (2000’s Relationship Of Command), there wouldn’t be any holding back at the sold-out 9:30 Club. A nostalgia act? Not tonight.

Bixler, still as quick-footed and energetic as ever, launched himself off drum kits and swung his microphone as he wailed through new songs and old, putting to rest any concerns that his vocal issues might still persist. Yes, original guitarist Jim Ward is once again no longer with the band and on the surface it may seem that this new lineup is simply The Mars Volta is playing At The Drive In songs, but replacement guitarist Keeley Davis fit perfectly into the new incarnation of the band nicely on backup vocals and guitar. Over the course of the night, this re-energized At The Drive In whipped the crowd into a frenzy, with a mosh pit of millennials and Gen Xers inevitably formed front and center.

Now boarding Air Bixler! A reunited At The Drive In performing at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC - 3/20/17 (Photo by Mauricio Castro/@TheMauricio)

Now boarding Air Bixler! A reunited At The Drive In performing at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC - 3/20/17 (Photo by Mauricio Castro/@TheMauricio)

After all these years, At the Drive-In is still as furiously fun as fans were hoping, and those that were tangentially curious about the band were left very satisfied too. Age hasn't slowed down Bixler-Zavala and the rest of the band, and their new album may very well be the kickoff to a new era of productivity for the still-standing, hard-rocking band.

Mexico’s Le Butcherettes were equally impressive as the openers for At the Drive-In. Fronted by singer/guitarist Teri Gender Bender, the band’s ferocious, primal energy was barely contained by the stage and continued to prove that their punk-infused music iis meant to live in the wildi rather than on wax - they have to be seen live. That said, their latest album, A Raw Youth, was released in 2015 through Ipecac Recordings.

 

Photos by Mauricio Castro
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