NEW YORK— Most bands that fit the "emo" or "hardcore" descriptions follow the same scream-sing/ scream-sing formula, but Coheed and Cambria are bringing something different to the scene.
That something is an unusual blend of prog-rock, emo and sci-fi fantasy. Consequently, the band has often been described as an "emo Rush" due to its elaborate concept albums, 2002's The Second Stage Turbine Blade and 2003's In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, which chronicle the continuing saga of two intergalactic characters named Coheed and Cambria. Also, singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez's high-pitched vocals inescapably recall those of Rush singer Geddy Lee. Nevertheless, the group's potent combination of melodic sensibility and heavy-hitting rock far outweighs any comparisons with other bands.
The capacity crowd at Irving Plaza Sunday night went into an uproar when the group's introductory music — a majestic instrumental called "The Ring in Return" that sounds as if it could be background music for "The Legend of Zelda" — came on. Before Coheed and Cambria had even played their first notes, fans swarmed to the front of the stage like soccer hooligans rushing the field after their team wins the World Cup.
The band — drummer Josh Epard, bassist Michael Todd, guitarist Travis Stever, and the afro-maned Sanchez — opened with the title track of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, an eight-minute epic that swirls with torrents of blistering guitars and Sanchez's dulcet vocals. All eyes were drawn toward Sanchez, his hair flailing as he feverishly darted back and forth across the stage. Meanwhile, Stever and Todd ripped through intricate harmonies as Epard's furious drumming kept the pace.
The group soon delved into songs from its debut, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, including "Devil in Jersey City" and "Delirium Trigger," during which Sanchez wails, "Dear God, I don't feel alive/ When you're cut short of misery/ Will you pray it be the end?"
Fans sang along fervently, their eyes tightly shut; in fact, Sanchez was at times barely audible as crowd members sang along with his every word. The audience remained in motion for the entire show, jumping, moshing, crowd-surfing and pumping fists into the air. When fans began clapping along midway through the upbeat "The Velourium Camper I: Faint of Hearts," Sanchez grinned and said, "You guys are awesome."
Closing with old favorites from Second Stage, Coheed ended their set with "Time Consumer" and returned for "one more song." Fans chanted for only a minute before the band quickly obliged and played "Everything Evil," where Sanchez's personal lyrics seemingly became just as meaningful to everyone else: "And she screamed Claudio, dear Claudio/ I wish, goddamn it, we'll make it if you believe."
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