Sounds like: A prolific experimentalist now financially secure enough to operate without any semblance of a creative filter.
For fans of: The Mars Volta, John Frusciante’s solo albums, Brainiac, the Gold Standard Laboratories back catalog.
Latest release: The synth-heavy Octopus Kool Aid, his third album this year alone.
Why you care: When the world last saw Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, he looked like someone silently begging for a sniper to put a bullet in his brain. Onstage this past summer for a spate of high-profile shows with reunited post-hardcore heroes At the Drive-In, the guitarist performed with all the enthusiasm of a guy who only agreed to the gigs to help an estranged bandmate pay off his gambling debts—which, frankly, is the only possible explanation for why ATD-I ever decided to get back together. After the band’s acrimonious split in 2001, Rodriguez-Lopez and lead bleater Cedric Bixler-Zavala formed prog-punk behemoth the Mars Volta, whose rather astounding success gave the duo carte blanche to follow through with whatever outre projects happened to pop into their Afro-topped heads. In Rodriguez-Lopez’s case, that’s meant putting out an endless stream of noodling guitar and synth explorations, with various backing musicians cycling in and out of his employ (his current touring band is a female-fronted four-piece called Bosnian Rainbows). Why give up that freedom and go back to playing decade-old songs if not to save an old friend from having his kneecaps broken? Needless to say, Rodriguez-Lopez is probably relieved to return to this setting, playing whatever he wants, with little regard for the amount of self-indulgence the audience can endure.
SEE IT: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group plays Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 20. 9 pm. $15 advance, $18 day of show. 21+.