“Man your own jack hammer!” the crowd screamed in time with Claudio Sanchez as Coheed and Cambria tore up Music Farm’s stage in Charleston last Monday with Pianos Become the Teeth and Moving Mountains. Charleston served as the second stop in their first tour since drummer Chris Pennie and original bassist of the group Mic Todd left the group in mid-2011.
Of the two openers, Pianos Become the Teeth seemed to be the dud. The audience wasn’t very receptive to the unintelligible screaming of the lead singer. I didn’t completely hate it, which I could attribute to my excitement to see Coheed but I digress. A few people standing around me kept saying, “Every song sounds the same!” a sentiment with which I have to agree with, unfortunately. The instrumentality was great, especially the drums, but I couldn’t help but feel that the band was being held back by the vocals.
Moving Mountains was amazing, but they still had to work to impress the audience. The crowd was full of overcritical drunkies on this, the night that Coheed came to Music Farm. Moving Mountains played so well—they’re one of those bands that are way better live than on studio tracks. When I heard that they were opening on this tour I have to admit I was underwhelmed, but as soon as they finished playing their first song I threw my preconceived notions out of the window and just enjoyed their set. The emotions that are lost in recorded versions of their songs are so present when played live; it’s difficult not to connect to them as they perform.
Finally, the moment we were all waiting for: Coheed and Cambria strutting on stage and launching right into “Time Consumer” from their first album Second Stage Turbine Blade. From there they kept warming the crowd up with “No World For Tomorrow,” one of their many anthem-y songs that make you want to break down doors and punch everyone. The crowd complied all too eagerly when Claudio screamed, “Raise your hands high, young brother and sisters!” at which point the pit finally opened up and we all began to fear for the well being of our faces. A highlight of the show was the band playing “Deranged,” the song they wrote for the Batman: Arkham City soundtrack. “Deranged” is a perfect example of the lyrical genius that is Claudio Sanchez. He completely understood that to make a song for that game work, he had to delve into the psyche of the antagonist, the infamous Joker. If you haven’t heard the song, go listen to it right now while keeping in mind the notorious character that inspired it.
Some other performances of note were the well-known song “Feathers” from Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Vol. 2: No World For Tomorrow and “Devil In Jersey City” from SSTB.As soon as we heard the high-pitched giggle followed by the name of the group’s past identity “Shabütie,” we all went insane. Another mind-blowing experience on par with “Deranged” was Coheed’s rendition of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” They reinvented in such a way that it could have easily been a track off of one of their own albums. They never cease to amaze me. We also got a nice dose of returning drummer Josh Eppard’s harmonies on “Mother Superior.” To end their set Coheed played what is arguably their most intense and soul-shaking song, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” from the album of the same name. Let me tell you, there is absolutely no feeling on par with hearing that song live. It’s indescribable. They then left the stage, the audience knowing all too well that they were going to come back for an encore—that double neck guitar wasn’t on stage just for kicks. After a rousing chorus of “Coheed! Coheed! Coheed!” alternating with “Three more songs! Three more songs! Three more songs!” they finally complied, giving us the first full band showing of “Sentry The Defiant,” a song that Claudio released an early acoustic version of on Coheed’s YouTube channel in February. They then played “A Favor House Atlantic,” a fan favorite with the trademark Coheed line “Bye, bye, beautiful! Don’t bother to write!” They closed out the show with what is undoubtedly their most well known song, the one that got many people interested in their music in the first place, “Welcome Home.” Claudio donned his glorious white double-necked Gibson and went to town. At one point during the song he left the stage, climbed up to the green room and leaned out of the window that overlooks the venue. Suffice to say, he got a bit carried away and we loved every second of it.
I was a bit nervous for the band, seeing as half of the members were replaced in the past year, but my nerves were for naught as the new line up proved to be beyond amazing. Josh Eppard was welcomed back with open arms after years of recovering from a drug addiction that caused him to leave the band. Mic Todd, the original bassist for the group, left the band after being charged with armed robbery of prescription narcotics in Boston last year. As Claudio has stated previously, he has been surrounded by chemical dependency for the majority of his life and felt that it was best to move on and let Mic deal with his issues rather than allow them to be exacerbated if he stayed in the band. Filling the role of bassist is new addition Zach Cooper, who more than proved himself on Music Farm’s stage. And never one to disappoint, Travis Stever with his awesome new haircut was the final piece to the amazing puzzle that is Coheed. His harmonies, energy, and banter with Claudio gave us some familiarity that we held onto while getting used to the changes that had been made within the band.
The show was incredible. It was so great seeing the band bounce back from the losses that it suffered in the past year. I’ve never seen Claudio more engaged with the audience and more pumped about performing. I, for one, have never been so excited to be jammed next to strangers drenched in not only their own sweat, but everyone else’s as well. The greatest thing about a Coheed show is the camaraderie that’s impossible not to feel during the show. Being right in front of the stage, listening to the music with your hands in the air, it’s impossible not to feel a connection to not only the band but the people around you as well. After all, we are all “children of the fence.” And meeting them for the second time after the show, that was just the cherry on top of a fantastic night.