It finally happened. In all of the hundreds of shows I have attended over the years, I never experienced the quintessential Spinal Tap moment until Friday Night’s Coheed and Cambria show at the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas. And there was no mistaking it.
As the opening notes to “Devil in New Jersey” frenetically pulsated behind him, singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez approached the mic, raised his right fist in the air and growled “HOUSTON!… You opened the box, we came! Now you must come with us!”. The problem, of course, was that the band was in AUSTIN – They played Houston the night before! As Sanchez started churning out the monster guitar riffs that exemplifies the Coheed and Cambria sound, drummer Josh Eppard burst out laughing and someone sheepishly apologized on the mic – “Sorry Austin!”
That glitch aside, Coheed and Cambria played a tight, manacing set that combined high energy with dark overtones. From the opening vocals of “The Dark Sentencer” and throughout the show, Sanchez took great pleasure in spinning slightly demented versions of many of the band’s greatest songs. Sanchez is not a big talker. Stage banter is just not his thing. He prefers to speak through his lyrics and his guitar, reveling in his persona as a mysterious figure behind a solid mass of hair.
As is their usual pattern, the band riffed nonstop from one powerful song to the next. They didn’t slow down or pause unless they needed to change guitars. Drummer Eppard flailed about in constant motion, a huge smile on his face throughout. Guitarist Travis Stever and bassist Zach Cooper powered through the thirteen song set with an awesome display of fire, energy, and musicianship.
They played many of their classics, like “Here We Are Juggernaut” and “Devil In Jersey City” and the fans ate it up. The monstrous sound was tight and expansive, with an impressive light show that cycled through a multitude of vibrant colors – a nice shift from the foreboding red and blues that are usually a part of this genre. Other highlights included “A Favor House Atlantic,” “Ten Speed (of God’s Blood and Burial)” and the ballad “Wake Up.”
They closed with an amazing rendition of, “Coming Home” with some spectacular solo work by Sanchez. The crowd was mesmerized and stood standing in appreciation long after the band left the stage. It was a fantastic show from what I feel is a serious;y underrated band.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA PHOTO GALLERY
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Taking Back Sunday played a rousing set churning out audience-pleasing classics like “You’re So Last Summer,” “Cute Without the E“ and “Timberwolves at New Jersey.“ Frontman Adam Lazzara paced back and forth across the stage, swinging his microphone in all manner of ways. One minute he launches it skyward, effortlessly catching it just as the next verse starts, and the next he is wrapping it around his body in a well-rehearsed and tangled ballet. He was fun to watch had the crowd thoroughly engaged.
Lazzara’s stage banter brings the audience in, belying the size of the venue. He treats the expansive amphitheater like an intimate club show, joking with members of the audience and bandmates alike, in a loose and unrehearsed display of comradery. One minute he’s talking about his days living in Texas and getting a dog, and a motorcycle, and the next he is commenting on the size of the biceps on a bodybuilder down front.
Just prior to closing out the set, Lazzara reminisced about his own teenage fandom and how much he looked up to Coheed as a band. He then led the crowd in a welcome chant for the night’s headliner – “Co-Heed! Co-Heed!” before the stage erupted into a light-filled crescendo. He then took a moment to recall the band’s debut in the capital city. “The first time we came to Austin, Texas we played to about two or three people – because they worked at the place we were playing!.” He then proceeded to thank the audience for the welcome they received this night and expressed how humbled they were. And with that, they launched into “MakeDamnSure,” that had the audience standing and singing along to each and every word.
TAKING BACK SUNDAY PHOTO GALLERY
San Francisco Bay Area band The Story So Far opened up the show with a power-pop-punk sound that had one foot firmly planted in turn of the century nostalgia and the other playing up their punk leanings. Unfortunately, the result was less than impressive. While the sound was energetic, the performance was not. Frontman Parker Cannon more often than not looked bored as he pressed his mouth against the mic and sang, while most of the band stood in place while they played. While I have seen my share of rock and roll attitudes that attempt to make disinterest look cool, The Story So Far’s music begs for more. As a result, the element of fun that is characteristic of the genre is missing, and all that’s left is a band that seems to be going through the motions.
Still, there were moments when the band caught a spark. “Let It Go” – the latest single off of the upcoming album “Proper Dose” – was a catchy pop-rock tune that is a call back to the band’s previous work but adds a fresh sheen. And in spite of the perceived lack of energy, the audience didn’t seem to care. As the band wound up their set with 2011’s “Quicksand,” many of them were on their feet and singing along.