It took nearly ten years to accomplish a feat that had arrived Thursday night: It was my tenth time seeing my favorite band Coheed and Cambria. Ten long years of setlists, lineup changes, and manning our jackhammers, this was a huge moment for me. To think that this concert was centered around their latest album “The Color Before The Sun,” an album previously mentioned on this site as being very underwhelming and a complete change in sound from preceding albums, left me a little anxious. How reliant would Claudio Sanchez and company be on their latest album? Would they surprise everyone and play mainly older material? Regardless, my friend Traci (a fellow Coheed-fanatic) and I anticipated their set.
The Observatory North Park, situated about ten minutes north of downtown San Diego, is an interesting venue. Being the second time at this venue in the last few months, I knew the drill: possibly bothersome security staff, a ridiculous bathroom situation, and “the wall” that separated the moshers from the viewers. To my surprise, this time through I experienced the exact opposite of what I’ve come to expect from the venue. Having been recently purchased, renovated, and with enough time to work out the clogs in their system, I’ve come to really enjoy this venue. The staff was much more approachable, the bathrooms more accessible, and the shin-busting “wall” was removed. I was a little upset about the latter since it acted as a perfect barrier from concert-goers more passionate and unpredictable than myself, but Traci and I braved the surely frenetic crowd.
Having never heard of opening act Silver Snakes before the concert, I decided to look into their discography the day before. Unfortunately, after my first listen, I couldn’t say that I liked it very much. I think it might have been the similar sounding vocals from track-to-track, but regardless I wasn’t very interested in the opening set upon arrival. But there is a strange phenomena that resides within some bands, where for some reason they play better live than in a studio. Thus was the case for Silver Snakes, which completely took me by surprise. A sound similar to Deftones and Pianos Become The Teeth (which ironically are bands I’m not fans of), I was immediately drawn in from the opening song onward. Alex Estrada’s vocals were powerful, especially his half-scream, half-growl dirty vocals. In those moments I was taken back to music I had listen in my youth, full of angst. With a set containing very bassy rhythm sections, slower breakdowns, and dramatic choruses, I was thoroughly impressed with their music surrounded by hundreds of others around me. I’d definitely recommend checking them out when they hit a city near you, while I give their latest album another chance. You can support them by checking out their website, and by following them on Facebook for band updates.
I’ve written about follow-up act Thank You Scientist in the past on the site. I marveled over their over-the-top stage performance their last time around, so I don’t have too much to add to this review. They’ve only released one album, so their entire set consisted of repeated performances of the better tracks off that album, except for an interesting cover version of the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” Everything else was the same: Tom’s amazing guitar solos, Salvatore’s quirky stage antics, and a brass section atypical for such a venue. Standing closest to the band’s bassist, I couldn’t help but zeroing in on his playing, which includes slap sections and difficult looking chords. It was definitely an enjoyable set, but one that I’d already seen. I was able to meet the band after the show, which is always fun seeing people on stage up close and personal. You can support Thank You Scientist by checking out their website, and by following them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Preview and purchase “Maps of Non-Existent Places” by Thank You Scientist by clicking the album cover above!
At 9:30pm, the lights dimmed and their track “Ghost” could be heard over the speakers. The audiences pushes forward in anticipation, while my friend Traci and I guessed which song would open up a mammoth set. Would it be “No World For Tomorrow” or “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3,” two tracks often used to energize a crazed crowd? No. We were graced with opening track “Island” off their downbeat, non-dramatic album “The Color Before The Sun.” Needless to say, it was a little bit of a let down, so much that we both noticed no one in the crowd was moving. Sure, there was some head-bobbing and hips swaying, but no one was moving: jumping, dancing, moshing, anything. Following “Island” was “Eraser,” another song off their newest album, but with more dramatic pre-chorus and chorus sections. Again, the crowd was so still that I could’ve checked emails for my site in peace. It wasn’t until after the obligatory shout-outs to their newer material that they played older material, which included “Devil in Jersey City,” “33,” and “The Velourium Camper III: Al The Killer,” songs I haven’t heard often in their concerts. Once these songs blared over the speakers did the audience finally participate, including mosh-pits and crowd surfers. “Now this is the Coheed I know,” I thought during “Devil in Jersey City” as I saw singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez laugh in delight on stage. Overall, they played songs off every album except “The Afterman: Ascension,” including “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial)” and “Welcome Home” off personal favorite “Good Apollo, Volume I” in their encore. I knew this was going to happen, though, when I saw Claudio’s well-known, “Good Apollo”-era double necked guitar sitting in their guitar rack offstage. I did notice throughout the set, though, the absence of Coheed’s other guitarist Travis Stever. Being a bigger member of the band than people realize, I noticed I wasn’t hearing much of his guitar or vocals. It could have been because I was on the opposite side in front of bassist Zach Cooper, but I felt a lack of presence from him. As a guitarist, I felt my style of play more closely mirrored Stever’s than Sanchez’s, so I was a little disappointed in missing out on half of Coheed’s juicy guitar rhythms and solos.
The verdict? Despite how nervous I was going into this concert, Coheed and Cambria never fails to amaze. A band eager to please their diehard fan base, any listener of Coheed and Cambria will completely enjoy their live performances. The only thing missing was the over-the-top equipment they used to play while supporting older albums on tour, including a violin bow (“Good Apollo, Volume I),” a Theremin (“Good Apollo, Volume II”), and background singers (the original Neverender tours). A move conservative approach in this concert, I was not let down. Please support this amazing band if they perform in a city near you. I guarantee you a great time. You can support them by visiting their webpage, and by following them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
View pictures from the concert on my Facebook page here!