Sunday, June 12, 2011

Live Review - Coheed & Cambria @ Williamsburg Waterfront

Over the last six years or so, north Brooklyn has been the site of some of the summers best concerts in the city and some of the most talked about shows in the music world. Who can forget when Beyonce and Jay-Z showed up at Grizzly Bear in McCarren Park in 2009 or when Bloc Party drew some of the biggest crowds to any gig in the summer of 2005, or even last year's gigs with Chromeo and Girl Talk gigs that were so out of control, wild and fun it was the only way to close summer 2010. There have been other highlight shows through the years and as the free concerts seem to be winding down due to monetary reasons, there are still a few popping up for everyone to enjoy. To start this summer off, Coheed and Cambria came and performed an encore set of their "Neverender Tour," which sees the band doing songs acoustic, best of material as well as performing their debut, The Second Stage Turbine Blade in it's entirety to celebrate the records ten year anniversary.

As the rain poured and wind from the east river took over for most of the day, Coheed's cult following of fans would bare the brutal conditions and came out in droves to see their idols take the stage for the price of nothing. After an afternoon of openers that included Tigers Jaw and Adrien Belew of King Missile's side project - Adrien Belew Power Trio. At around 7:45 the moment fan's had been waiting for would finally come. In front of a backdrop of a couple (Coheed and Cambria - the fictional characters in which the band's music and name originate) and two windmill style blades propped to both sides of the stage, singer Claudio Sanchez walked out on stage with an acoustic guitar and behind a music stand and opened the night. As Claudio's Geddy Lee meets Steve Perry vocals projected and as he shred on his acoustic guitar, it was proof right then and there, it was going to be a great night of musical talent. Over the years, Coheed's fans have been involved in the sci-fi story that Claudio and co. have featured in their music, a post-apolcalypic love story that spans beyond the band's music and lyrics and into comic books and music videos. While the beauty of Claudio's vocals blanketed the crowd, the rest of the band would accompany him on stage for a thirty minute unplugged set to set the tone.

After a brief intermission, the band came back on for what fan's truly wanted, a chance to hear for the last time, the band's debut from stage to finish live in concert. Released a decade ago during the incline of the screamo/emo scene that introduced us to bands like Thrice, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and countless others, Second Stage Turbine Blade was a record that stuck out more than what the other bands had released. Indeed it had some of the similar formula of that genre, the chomping guitars, pounding drums, screaming backing vocals but this band and record were so much more than that and Coheed and Cambria have become so much more than that. They have managed to break away from the scene and become a global progressive, metal, classic rock, loud rock outfit that have gained the respect of critics and musicians around the globe. As pits would break out in the center of the crowd and fans chanted back every word, the band fed off the energy of the crowd. Claudio would run around on stage with his guitar and toss it between his legs, behind his head and scream into it as if he was the lovechild of Hendrix, Slash and Cobain. Guitarist Travis Stever has such precise technical ability and coordination on his axe, it is almost bewildering why he is not a guitarist that is much more admired in the music world. After nearly an hour of play that record extends to, it was back to the wings for Coheed as they prepped for set number three.

Coming back on for an encore of songs from their other releases, it would end in an escalating and epic fashion. With the final two songs being "Welcome Home," and "The Ring in Return," it would have every fan smiling even more from ear to ear and the band ending in the highest of glory. Yet, just when you thought it was finished a brief fourth set happened as Claudio and Travis returned to acoustic form to sing their manager's favorite song for his birthday, "Elf Tower New Mexico." After a two hour and fifteen minute long free concert, the fan's got their monies worth and began their summer, even in the cold rain, it was worth every second.