If you love the band then you should regret not seeing them live. Scab dates is probably my most unfavoured release of theirs, and definitely the one I listen to the least - however I think the live show The Mars Volta put on is absolutely stunning. The jamming/noodling/wankery between songs is fantastic, it builds up the intensity of their songs. Slowly the pieces start coming together and exploding with energy. It cannot be compared to or captured to a record because what they are doing is to be experienced there, in person, it feels unique - even if it is just incredibly well rehearsed.
I've heard this in quite few corners of the internet and is one of the reasons I haven't plumped to see them live on their upcoming tour (the rest being money, distance and a holiday to pay for).
Without doubt one of my favourite bands, but the Scab Dates live album is vastly disappointing. It was by no means as bad as some of the live reviews I read, but 40 mins for Cicatriz Esp was a tad stupid. If I paid to see that show I would of left really annoyed. For such a good track, as the last of good gig, it shouldn't be dragged out over half an hour!
I'm all for experimental noodling and wankery in music, and the music they have created is mindblowing at times, but every rock gig needs a memorable encore. I could be wrong. I haven't seen them yet and I really hope I don't regret not seeing them this year. Be good to see some live reviews on here for those that do.
Incidentally, I hate encores. If a band is doing one, they've prepared for it. That isn't an encore, that is going off stage a bit before the end of your allotted playing time then nipping back on again. They have lost all meaning for gigs today. I'd rather a band came out and played their arses off then that's it, rather than letting the audience massage their egos for them.