Coheed and Cambria's Space Drama Still Hit an Emotional Core

Coheed and Cambria's Space Drama Still Hit an Emotional Core
Photo by Eric Sauseda.
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Coheed and Cambria, The Deer Hunter
House of Blues
April 27, 2K17

“You could have been all I wanted, but you weren’t honest, now get in the ground.”

Were that the first line to a short story, we would talk about it as one of the great opening lines in literature. Alas, Coheed and Cambria have two strikes against them that keep them from getting their proper critical praise: They play rock music and the stories they tell are genre fiction. One hopes that maybe in time they’ll get the re-evaluation they deserve, not just as a band that writes kick-ass songs but as a group that also had some really interesting narratives in their work.

Not that anyone at the House of Blues was really focusing in on all of this in the moment, of course. The group was touring in celebration of their beloved third album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, and most of the audience were just happy to have the chance to hear the deep cuts that don’t normally make it into the setlists. While one may never get tired of banging his or her head to “Welcome Home,” it was a treat to get to hear some of the less-played songs, like “Crossing the Frame” and both of the Apollo tracks.

The band remains strong as ever live, and if there’s any boredom that comes with playing the album over and over again, it doesn’t show onstage. Claudio Sanchez is infuriatingly good at his job, being near flawless vocally and having a bunch of guitar hero moments, as FFTTEOM provides him with plenty of chances to show off his guitar work.

But what makes the whole thing come together really beautifully is the fans. They show up for this band in a way that few other fandoms do. Even juggalos don’t show up this early to get a good spot to see their heroes onstage. It was the very rare Houston crowd that showed up early, sold out the venue and sang hard all night long. It’s an unspoken feeling of community that makes Coheed shows seem like something special.

Coheed and Cambria's Space Drama Still Hit an Emotional Core
Photo by Eric Sauseda.

Is it all because of a nostalgia high? That’s a factor, sure, but less than you’d think. FFTTEOM holds up as a genuinely good record, less tight than In Keeping Secrets, but fascinating in its ambition and world-building. It’s the moment The Amory Wars went from being their Star Wars to their Dark Tower. (I don’t have to point out marching to the top of the tower in “Gravemakers & Gunslingers,” do I?)

Sure, genre fiction might not be high literature, but the emotional truths we can reach with it are just as valid. Yes, there are things about it that can be silly and confusing at times, but that’s just part of the appeal. Whether you’re on Earth or a part of the Keywork, some lines always land, even a decade after you first hear them.

So, How Where the Openers: The Deer Hunter were really interesting…I think? The issue was that, as the opening act, they didn’t have quite enough volume to give them a full and proper judgment. But what I could hear sounded really interesting and diverse, and I would gladly watch them again. The crowd seemed to be quite behind them, and Casey Crescenzo greatly impressed with his vocals.

Personal Bias: Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is my favorite album to feature a talking bicycle, which is a thing that will never not make me laugh a little bit.

The Crowd: Fans older and newer, taller and less so, skinny and stout, all eager to get loud once they got through the merch line.

Overheard in the Crowd: “I just know I’m going to have to go to the bathroom soon,” said one guy to his buddy as they debated whether they would push themselves into the masses in front of the stage. In the end, they played it safe, which is always the right call with a full bladder.

Random Notebook Dump: If I won the lottery and somehow came into possession of millions of dollars, Coheed and Cambria are one of the groups I would offer to fund a one-time arena-level performance just to see what they could do with a big stage and a million-dollar production budget.

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