Coheed and Cambria at the Ogden Theatre 02/14/13 (photos, review)By Alan Cox | February 15th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
With a busy stage show complete with eight anatomically correct mannequins sealed in plastic chambers, a steady stream of smoke to augment the choreographed strobes and an iconic, illuminating set of overlapping triangles that anchor movie projections on either side, the electric vibe was certainly something from the future.
This setup makes sense, given that every one of the progressive rock band’s albums is another conceptual chapter of “The Amory Wars,” an ambitious science fiction series penned by Coheed and Cambria’s brainchild Claudio Sanchez. So far, “The Amory Wars” has been converted into a series of comic books and novel, and rumor has it Mark Wahlberg is planning to make it a live action movie. Try to fully grasp the plot and you’re likely to become confused. But as their live show evidenced, it doesn’t really matter.
Russian Circles opened the show, an odd trio that presented a thick wall of acid-induced instrumentals that eschewed melody and hooks for tone and vibe. Judging by the wafts of smoke and pungent aroma that erupted, many in the audience were eager to take the trip the opening band was offering.
Between the Buried and Me were next on the bill. The band’s highly technical set took the crowd on a musical meandering somewhat akin to a traveling circus’ fun house. With vocals ponging from death metal growls to crooning choruses, and the music itself dizzily stumbling through the halls of metal, jazz, thrash and reggae, the lasting impression was mathematical and muddy, but not terribly pleasant.
Then the lights dimmed, a computer voice droned through the venue and Coheed and Cambria eased into its set with “Pretelethal,” the album opener of “The Afterman: Descension,” which was just released last week. Next the band kicked into heavier riffing with “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant,” which featured the first of many crowd sing-along choruses of the night. Drummer Josh Eppard played a very small kit center stage, but he compensated for its size with the force of his hits.
Sanchez commanded the audience’s attention, not only with his piercing voice (an acquired taste) and warmly fuzzing guitar, but also his massive mane, which is big and wild enough to be a character in one of his story lines.
With the mix getting cleaner as they progressed, Coheed and Cambria presented much of the material from “The Afterman: Ascension,” with rowdy audience participation in the chorus of “Key Entity Extraction III: The Butcher” and a lighter, reflective reaction to the radio friendly title track (complete with lines of Bic lighters near the front row!). The crowd favorite “Here We Are Juggernaut” inspired fists in the air and shouts from the entire hall, which demanded an encore with more fervor than any other recent show I can recall.
They reserved “Welcome Home” for their final song, and with Sanchez pulling out a very ’70s double neck electric and playing it with his teeth, the sold out crowd no doubt was satisfied they got what they came for.
Whether any of these passionate fans have a clue of what Sanchez’s cloaked metaphorical sci-fi songs are really about remains a mystery. As does the band’s popularity, given the decidedly “uncool” natures of science fiction and progressive rock.
Alan Cox is the president/creative director of Cox Creative, a Highlands Ranch-based creative shop. He works too much, sleeps too little and spends every free moment coaching baseball, shooting images and hanging out with his rowdy sons and rowdier wife. Check out his photos here.
Seth A. McConnell is a staff photographer for the YourHub section of the Denver Post and is a regular contributor to Reverb.