Photographs by Sean Chin.
Chances are, you don’t quite understand Coheed and Cambria. I’d consider myself a fan, having heavily thrashed most of their discography, yet admittedly I’m not sure I ever really understood them either. If you’ve never even heard of the band before, here are some things to consider: They’re a talented and prolific prog rock band who epitomise the phrase “guitar nerds” (I once saw Claudio play a theremin mid guitar solo with his impressive mane of hair). They’ve been creating concept albums based on lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s The Amory Wars comic book since 2002. Claudio has the build of a bouncer, with a voice that alternates between fierce metal growls and a melodic, pseudo-falsetto tone that led to widespread internet belief he sung the original Pokémon theme song. To widespread internet disappointment, he didn’t.
Disappointment, however, was nowhere to be found. To call their performance a spectacle would be akin to calling the galaxy “big”. With the flashing “Keywork” symbol anchoring the stage, Kool Haus was flooded with over 25 roaming strobe lights, variable patterned flood lights and a myriad of smoke-filled saturated colours. The band sounded enormous, thundering drums, chunky rock riffs interspersed with gloriously excessive guitar solos, hammering the innumerable effects pedals littering the stage. If the goal was to immerse the crowd in an interstellar atmosphere, they knocked it out of orbit. I’ve never been thrust into the midst of battle between colossal spaceships, but after this gig it feels like I can check it off my bucket list.
The show was a love letter to the fans, pure and simple. Casting a glance around the room revealed a mass of black Coheed shirts and band tattoos. Large prickly looking metal fans were lost in glee as the band played 2002’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 in its entirety. Each song saw Claudio battling to be heard over the legions of adoring fans. Even the lighting tech could be seen headbanging, singing along word for word. Coheed themselves revelled in every second. It seems so rare to see a band that’s genuinely grateful for the life they lead, gripped by the passion the audience exudes. The whole experience felt like the whimsical dream of a 10 year old boy. There was an irresistible joy gripping the room, creating a distinct feeling of community, belonging.
All dreams have to end sometime, so Coheed ensured the crowd would wake with a jolt. 100 minutes into the gig, Claudio donned his signature double guitar, signalling the arrival of fan favourite Welcome Home. A chugging, triumphant Zeppelin-esque fist pumper, it was no wonder the crowd looked set to tear the roof off. Chanting along in a deafening chorus, the energy in the room was undeniable. Whatever doubts I had over understanding them vanished. When a band kills it this severely, it all just makes sense.
Thanks to Live Nation Ontario for media access.