Coheed and Cambria transport Uptown audiences to another dimension

Claudio Sanchez. // Photo by Chris Ortiz

He was there, Claudio Sanchez, this man whose voice and music I have listened to since I was a child. It was surreal holding it all before me, flesh and blood.

Coheed and Cambria are consummate professionals. Interpreters connected. As the fog rolled over the stage, they played the slow opening strains of their first song, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3”.

They looked in control and at ease. The song opened up and an exuberant energy was unleashed.

If you’re not familiar with Coheed and Cambria, they’ve been creating their unique blend of music – progressive rock with metal, power pop and post-hardcore, all brought together in a sci-fi world – for twenty years now. They performed at the Uptown Theater on Tuesday night to a crowd with plenty of Coheed tattoos visible in the mix.

Claudio Sanchez is the architect behind the band’s sci-fi universe Armory Wars and the iconic voice that leads it all.

When someone is so accomplished, adored, and has been the soundtrack to so many moments in your life for so many years, it’s easy to forget they’re just one person. There was her body – just a man – shining in the lights with her gorgeous mane.

I saw him concentrate and wipe his sweaty palms on his jeans. I saw that he is like all of us. I could imagine how he felt in those moments, dealing with his joys, his dreams and his insecurities.

He was sometimes very still at the microphone, even when he was singing and his fingers ran along the neck of his guitar. He tossed his hair back, backed away from where he stood, and hopped around the stage every time he took a break.

Josh Eppard was playing drums with his mouth wide open, smiling and wagging his tongue. His arms and knees bounced, relentless but never tired and always precise.

Bassist Zach Cooper occasionally stepped in for backup vocals, speaking the words even when he wasn’t on the mic.

Their performance, while grand, was honest and humble. “We worked hard on it. We love it and we believe in it,” the group states.

The crowd reflected the energy on stage, singing every word and embracing new singles. Even a security guard uttered “A Favor House Atlantic” under his mask.

The band honored the recent twentieth anniversary of their first record, Second stage turbine blade, playing three tracks from the album. I fell in love with Coheed and that album in high school in the early 2000s.

The songs immediately took me back to the volatile teenage days when the dynamics of the album felt like a revelation. As they entered “Junesong Provision”, my hand landed on my chest and tears flowed.

I drummed my fingers against my chest and stomach – a basic I learned in yoga class – to express and embody the tenderness I felt while releasing and flowing my energy. I rocked to my feet, nodded and threw my hands up.

I moved without thinking.

There was fellowship at Uptown. I opened my mouth and instead heard Claudio’s voice come out.

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Josh Epard. // Photo by Chris Ortiz

These songs transcend time. Was it a sacred experience? May be. Did it make me want to kneel in admiration and praise? May be.

Those people on stage dreamed shit, and now they have thousands of people jumping around, overflowing with emotion every night. I revel in their audacity – the strangeness.

They have bouncy pop anthems, like their new single “The Liars Club,“but they also have screaming metal, acoustic ballads, progressive structures, and it’s all set in a sci-fi world.

During “Devil in Jersey City”, I noticed Claudio following something going on up front, and he tipped off security before finally stopping mid-song. The band asked everyone to be patient while an audience member receives medical assistance. “We just want to make sure everyone stays safe,” says guitarist Travis Stever.

The atmosphere was with the greatest respect. It was classy and honorable. The band cared about their fans, and they didn’t care.

After a string of high-energy songs, they brought it back with the melodic sweetness of “The Afterman.”

They ended their main set with “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut,” a moody blues-influenced jam laced with solos for 10 minutes. Ending the set with this epic track felt like a door-opener. They had already been on stage for over 90 minutes, but they weren’t rushing.

They weren’t tired, at least they didn’t show it.

Coheed and Cambria’s tenth studio album, Vaxis II: A Window to the Awakened Mind, will be released on May 27.


SETLIST

  • In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
  • You got wit, kid
  • No people for tomorrow
  • Shoulders
  • Provision of Junesong
  • Devil in Jersey City
  • all the bad
  • Get up, Naianasha (cut the cord)
  • Suffering
  • The afternoon
  • A House of Atlantic Favor
  • The gutter
  • We are here Juggernaut
  • The Complete End III: The Complete End
  • The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut

Bis

  • The Liars Club
  • welcome to the house

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