April 8, 2006

Concert Review: Coheed & Cambria w/ Avenged Sevenfold and Head Automatica 4/7/06

To say that I've been looking forward to this would be an understatement. It was only abut a month or so ago that I picked up my first Coheed & Cambria album, which I did on the recommendation of a friend of mine. It was Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, and it is absolutely fantastic. It was far from what I expected, and was just a flat out excellent album. Then this show was announced, I knew I had to go. Since I was going, I figured I should check out Avenged Sevenfold as well. I picked up City of Evil, I was completely unprepared for what greeted me from my speakers, this album is amazing and has not yet left my CD player. I guess I should get to the show.

I got to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center about 6:15, doors opened at 6. I picked up my tickets at Will Call and took my place at the end of the line. I got inside pretty quickly and made my way over to the merch table, where I acquired a kickass Avenged Sevenfold tour shirt. I then went inside and waited for the show to begin. Now, this place has developed a nasty habit of starting shows earlier than scheduled, and this night was no different, kicking off at 6:45, rather than the announced 7pm.

The lights went down, and when they came up, Head Automatica was onstage. I must admit, that they have not won a new fan in me. Its not that they didn't perform well, but I was just not into their emo-psychedelia, or whatever you want to call it, style. Their look seemed to want to emulate the Beatles, yet it is mediocre at best. The music was just bland, trying to capture a bygone era with modern sensibilities, and ending up just a dull concoction. The crowd didn't really seem to be buying into them either, there was a decidedly mixed reaction, a combination of some weak cheers and boos. My best guess is that this was just the wrong crowd for them. Technically, they performed their music well, they were a solid unit up there, but I just could not get into them. I think the biggest thing that bugged me was when they plugged their upcoming album, it is being released on 6/6/06, and they said that if you were "real metal" you'd pick it up. Excuse me? Real metal? First, you'd have to actually play metal.

The stage was dismantled and then reset for our next act, and the one I was most looking forward too. By now, the sold out hall was really beginning to fill up with the late arrivals, and those wishing to miss the warmup. I made my way up closer to the stage, standing in a cluster on the left side of the hall, and waited.

The lights went down and the theme from Beetlejuice began to play. It was time for Avenged Sevenfold to take the stage. They opened up their set with "The Beast and the Harlot" much to the crowd's approval. As good as I think they are on disk, they are just as good live. They look to singlehandedly resurrect the LA glam scene from the 1980's. The music has those glam metal tendencies without the excesses and corny lyrics. These guys are the real deal, and they know how to work the stage. They were tight, heavy, and a lot of fun. The crowd was immediately into them, a number of dance pits circled around the hall, plus the body surfers were out en masse. Their stage setup was very nice as well, featuring a riser set around the drum kit that the band could use to elevate themselves, and large replica of the band's logo, a skull with bat wings, in addition to the usual backdrop. Partway through their set, they pulled out the acoustic guitars, just to slow things down a bit. They proceeded to play "Seize the Day," which they claim to have never played live, but I don't believe them, it was fantastic. Other highlights of their 50 minute set include "Burn it Down," "Blinded in Chains," and "Trashed and Scattered," plus a couple of songs from their Waking the Fallen album. They closed their set with "Bat Country," which really got the crowd going. I truly hope they make another pass through town again, and soon. These guys have a very bright future, a new shining star in the metal scene.

Now came the longest wait, as Avenged Sevenfold's gear was slowly dismantled, and the stage reset for our main event. Feeling the results of a day with no food kicking in, I made my way through the mass of flesh to the lobby, only to wait among another sea of flesh to get a pretzel. I succeeded in my quest, and was able to assuage my hunger for the immediate future. I wandered around the hall, taking up residence about two thirds of the length of the hall back from the stage, but in dead center.

Once again, the lights went down, the crowd cheered, and when the lights returned, we were off and into another set of music. Coheed & Cambria were onstage and had the crowd in the palm of their hand. Now, I will be honest, I do not know their song titles, and I have only heard one of their albums. Basically, what I am trying to say is, there are songs I recognized, but can't really place them to a title. The music is interesting, sort of progressive, and straight up rock with a good deal of experimentation thrown in. Their music is has this weird feeling of spaciousness while retaining a structure with technical precision, truly excellent live performers. Among the highlights of their set were the slow acoustic "Wake Up," "Ten Speed," and "Crossing the Frame." They ended their set with "Welcome Home" followed by an extended jam which sounded incredible. They would build up the layers, let them break down, and build them up again without ever missing a beat. The showstopper came in the form of a full scale guillotine suspended on the right of the stage, the lights came down to draw focus to it, the blade fell, and all went black. Show's over.

Overall this was one great night for music. Three bands with three distinctly different sounds. Granted, I did not care for the warmup, but the two primary reasons for being there exceeded all expectations. Avenged Sevenfold is some great metal, they put on a great live show. On top of that, Coheed & Cambria was something to behold as well. It goes a long way to restoring my faith in the music scene of the younger generation. It shows that there are bands out there that that have talent and can stand out from the current trend of emo/screamo/post-hardcore acts that music labels have turned into a copy machine.

This was only the first date on the tour so there are plenty of more chances to catch them. If they are coming to your town, be sure to be there. Help support metal!

Here are some very poor camera-phone pics, click one to see a larger version:

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