When the stage crew set up a large screen behind the small stage at the former Carnegie library that is now home to the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock, audience members might have anticipated some sweet multimedia. One Day As a Lion, the project combining the talents of Rage Against the Machine town crier Zack de la Rocha and ex-Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, was about to play its second-ever live show. A barrage of images, maybe ripped from news sites on the Web, would complement the band's political lyrics and multi-directional avant-rock sound.
The screen remained blank, though, after De La Rocha, Theodore and keyboardist Joey Karam tromped onstage to excited applause and began a 40-minute set. It was merely there to block the sunlight streaming through the large glazed window behind the band. The late-afternoon sun still found its way in, lending a beatific glow to De la Rocha's wiry mop of hair. He looked about as happy as a restless 40-year-old rock star could be.
One Day As a Lion released an EP in 2008, but didn't play any live shows. It seemed that the project might only serve as an experiment for its two principals -- a kind of two-man retreat through which each would rethink the already challenging rock sounds they'd already developed in their better-known groups. But this set and the one ODAAL performed the previous afternoon in Pomona featured new music alongside the song from their debut -- and a new member, Karam, who freed De la Rocha from his own keyboard, allowing him to step out and stir up the crowd while delivering his rapid-fire verbal flow. This trio was fully armed for present and future assaults.