System of a Down and The Mars Volta Attack Montreal

Though System of a Down and The Mars Volta hardly have similar styles in the kind of music they write, record, and perform, a factor that unites the two acts is that they are both absolutely unique in the world of modern popular music. On Monday the 29th (the first day of classes for all UVM students), the two played a show at the Bell Center in Montreal, an extremely large venue compared to most anything here in humble Burlington.

Both acts were excellent, as to be expected, yet one could not help but wonder: Why are these two together? System of a Down offers an absurd blend of metal, hardcore, classic rock, and a sound that could really only be described as “world music” (though the term turns my stomach). Their songwriting ranges from the spiritual to the political to the simply vulgar, blending these realms into a rather abstract painting of modern human consciousness in the United States.

The Mars Volta, on the other hand, is something more along the lines of latin jazz meets post-hardcore progressive rock, experimenting with various non-conventional instruments, electronic sounds, and many rhythms. Their albums are both concept-based, each telling complex and enigmatic stories of desperate love and untimely death, with a flare for poetics that puts many writers today to shame.

So back to the question of why are they touring together? The answer became obvious at the Bell Center after they had taken the stage: both of these bands occupy a completely new and unique niche in rock. Both have taken risks in the music they have produced, and have been met with wild acceptance by fans and the music industry in general.