Bonnaroo 2009: Progging Out with The Decemberists, Mars Volta

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Once relieved from my shift at the Paste tent, I was all about the prog-rock indulgence. Two of my favorite bands from high school, The Decemberists and The Mars Volta, played overlapping sets at neighboring stages, competing for my attention with their virtuosic guitar solos and fantastical, convoluted storylines. The Decemberists took forever to go on, and I grew ansty while hearing Cedric Bixler-Zavala's infernal howl emanate wildly from the Which Stage, so I traded places. From then on, I cruised back and forth between the two stages, hearing many songs I didn't know by The Mars Volta (likely off of The Bedlam in Goliath, or maybe their new album, Octahedron, which drops next week), and parts of Hazards of Love, which the recent Paste cover artists played all the way through. I'm not nearly as big a fan of their latest metal-infused "folk opera" as I am of their earlier albums, but I did manage to hear some of its standouts, including "Annan Water." It also helps that stellar guest vocalists Shara Worden and Becky Stark have joined them for their recent live shows.