The "At The Drive-In Reunion" Era
These are the At The Drive-In shows that feature no new material before In•ter a•li•a had released. Initially starting in 2012 the first handful of shows featured the final line-up before the band's hiatus in 2001. While the run of 2012 performances do not feature anything new, they are remarkably consistent and well performed. This is in stark contrast to the The Relationship of Command era which while bursting with energy was marred by sloppy performances. Additionally, the band would not perform any material before In/Casiono/Out as the earlier material was not made with this iteration of the band. The 2012 run was initially lambasted for Omar's low energy, although fans later learned his mother had recently passed which makes these comments cruel and lacking empathy in hindsight. The setlists were mostly the same throughout the 2012 run with minor variances depending on whether it was a festival show or not. Cedric was known to make endless jokes throughout the show, with the Lollapalooza being a stand out (so much so that there are Youtube videos of just him riffing). The 2012 run ended in London in the late summer of 2012 after no more than about a dozen shows. At the time fans anticipated the band would take a break and begin touring again in 2013 or potentially record new material.
Unfortunately fans would have to wait until 2016 until At The Drive-In would again resurface due to myriad of reasons. Omar and Cedric had a falling out shortly after the 2012 tour. The Mars Volta had ended their final tour around the same time and Omar allegedly had expressed a need to take a break due to the passing of his mother. A riff between the two began to form when shortly after this Omar was back performing shows with a new band Bosnian Rainbows. It would be about another 18 months before the two would settle their differences, apparently eager to start performing together again. ANTEMASQUE would be born from this desire, initially billed as a new group and a new slate for Omar and Cedric to celebrate the seemingly endless collaborations. Rumors and whispers suggest that this material may have been intended for At The Drive-In or that Jim Ward was going to be playing in ANTEMASQUE. ANTEMASQUE would go into dormancy in November of 2015.
In February 2016 At The Drive-In again announced that their station was again operational, with the group preparing for a proper world tour this time. Unfortunately shortly before the tour's start Jim would bow out. There are conflicting statements about the course of events, with Jim claiming he was never on board and others stating he was right until the last minute. Whatever the case may be, At The Drive-In had to quickly find a rhythm guitarist. Keely Davis, who had played with Jim in Sparta stepped in to fill his role. While some fans were skeptical of this last minute switch, claiming without Jim it was not the band proper, others were welcoming of the new member and recalling the multiple line-up changes in the band's early years with some of those line-ups not including Jim.
At The Drive-In would tour from March until August 2016 across the world. While there still was no new material and the band was still unwilling to dive deeper into their discography they were more amicable to dive into those records pulling out some deeper cuts like 300Mhz and Ursa Minor. The shows were considered better than the 2012 shows by most concert attendees, although it was becoming increasingly apparent Cedric was struggling to hit the high notes of his youth, understandable as that was nearly twenty years ago. Even if some of their hairs had greyed, or their bellies had grown At The Drive-In was able to reclaim their youth and put a proper period on the end of an era that was abruptly aborted in 2001. Perhaps Omar was not swinging his guitar around his neck like a hoola-hoop anymore and Cedric was not trying to break to his legs by leaping off of high places, but their focused energy made for more coherent concerts.
The At The Drive-In reunion tour is peculiar, because it can be looked at a few ways. If viewed as one long 4 year stint it does feel like a band picking up where they left off, but struggling to get things going. Looked at in more cynical terms what may have started as a cash grab turned into a resurrection of a passion and recollection of nostalgic fun. It is also strange to consider how within this tour were three completely different bands, Bosnian Rainbows, ANTEMASQUE, and Zavalaz, a line-up change, the dissolving and rebuilding of friendships, and the beginning of families. It is a highscool reunion before our very eyes with the same unresolved dramas and scores we all go through as well. Unfortunately for us, we did not write One Armed Scissor.
At The Drive-In would slip into the studio shortly after to record their final, to this date, LP In•ter a•li•a.