Coheed and Cambria
Tuesday, May 8
Before Tuesday's Coheed and Cambria show in Bloomington, it would've been easy to question the wisdom of holding a concert for a band that primarily attracts high-school-age kids at a 21+ venue. By the time the first few notes of set opener "Time Consumer" rang out over the house PA, it was evident that the question was totally invalid.
No, Coheed's position in the rock canon is probably something closer to a modern Rush — a patently uncool band with viciously dedicated fans who know every word to every song, have the band's logo tattooed on their forearms and know more about the group's lyrical mythologies than you have time to listen to. Because nerddom knows no age limits, the Bluebird show sold out, and the crowd was more into it than any show I've ever seen in Bloomington.
Despite a pair of mostly terrible opening acts — third-rate Touché Amoré knockoffs Pianos Become the Teeth and late-to-the-party screamo dudes Moving Mountains — the show ended up being excellent. Coheed benefited from a slowly improving sound mix, and by the time they went on, the kinks that made the vocals for Pianos Become the Teeth (mercifully) inaudible had disappeared.
What followed was an hour-plus set of slick progressive metal disguised as radio-friendly screamo, or perhaps vice versa. Coheed singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez has carved a place in modern rock that no one else can really occupy with a long-running series of comic books called The Amory Wars and five (!) concept albums based on them. He and his band blasted through material from all five and felt as comfortable doing songs from 2002's The Second Stage Turbine Blade as he did 2010's Year of the Black Rainbow.
Coheed's performance was also a living lesson in how to compose a perfect setlist. After meandering through a blend of fan favorites and deep cuts, there was a sequence that went from the best ballad the band has ever written, "Mother Superior," to a shockingly good cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," to a monstrous set closer in "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth." That's to say nothing of the three-song encore that followed that, rewarding those who stuck around with the rare "Sentry the Defiant" and megahits "A Favor House Atlantic" and "Welcome Home."
By the time that Rush-by-way-of-"Kashmir" song faded out and the mass exodus to the club's front door began, not a single notion of Coheed and Cambria as a "high school band" remained. There was only the power of a great rock show, and that was all that mattered.