April 22, 2013

Coheed and Cambria @ Tivoli Brisbane

Live! Tonight! SOLD OUT! (almost)

Yeah boy, it was certainly time for some high quality live music for me. With their albums on repeat during our last overseas trip, Dan kind of got me into Coheed. 'The Armory Wars" novels did the rest. It's funny because at age 16 I walked away from one of their shows at an Austrian music festival. I didn't quite get it then, but 7 years later I was fan-girlying when I got to meet them.

The band is based on and around a series of science fiction novels, written by singer Claudio Sanchez. Each album is based on one whole story. Some of these novels are pretty hard to get, being out of print with no sign of a re-release anytime soon, which makes the whole concept even more awesome.

With their latest album (The Afterman), we got the opportunity to purchase a special edition pack, including the latest novel as well as a VIP pass for their concerts. I was pretty excited to meet them before the gig. Word got around that we would hear a song played by one or several of the band members before the show, but the volume of people who had acquired these VIP passess was overwhelming for both the venue and the band. They decided to cancel the song and turn it into a meet and greet instead. There was a cluster of people excitedly yet patiently waiting by the back entrance of the Tivoli, socialising and not socialising, reading over their novels they brought in to get them signed, dancing, discussing previous gigs they had been to, favourite albums... It was a place on this Earth ball I felt very comfortable at.

Needless to say the whole meet and greet process was very structured. One photo, taken by the tour manager, one signature from each band member per fan. If you talked for too long security would ask you to move on. Yeah, the venue was running behind big time. But with around 100 people lining up behind us I didn't really feel like wasting too much time anyway. Every kid of the Coheed family should have a go after all. So what was the band like? Very polite, semi-chatty, speak "professional". It's always a surreal experience for me to meet people who are blessed with creativity. I catch myself staring at them, mesmerized by how a person that is physically not much different from me can have such a distinctive mind, an infinite source of talent right there in their brain cavity. It's an exciting encounter, no matter what particular human I meet, no matter what they are gifted with.

Moving onto the concert and Circa Survive played a solid 9 - song opener show. I am a bit confused as to why the singer kept spitting on himself, a mystery I shall never solve. At least his voice was awesome and he thanked the audience after every song. Charm balls.
But Coheed, man... They were so there. The fans were mesmerized and at times the biggest spectacle happened in front of the stage, rather than on it. Seas of hands clapping to the beat, mosh pits forming amongst the crowd, chiors joining Claudio sing the chorus, it was truly a united crowd unlike anything I have witnessed in a long time. All musicians on stage showed gratitude for the support they received from their audience and rewarded us with not just a grande set, but also two songs for their encore. I was deaf at that stage so I can't go into detail much it seemed the Tivoli was shaking from excitement.

I have a lot of respect for bands who cherish their audience this much, who stay grounded and modest and earn the respect of their fans through years of consistent gratitude, quality shows and solid album releases. It's the only way to build a fan base as diverse and passionate as CaC can look at now. There is no stereotypical Coheed fan. The twenty or so people we interacted with before the show were all kinds of kids. Fashion blogger girls, hardcore lovers, hipster boys, punks, goths and sun tanned tradies. Pensioners, teachers, mums and dads. In an industry were pissing off your target audience is and always has been a big "No-no", Coheed and Cambria have made their beds well and proper, without conforming to record label policies and music critics' expectations.

If you get a chance to catch them live, jump at it!
Otherwise watch some of their live sets online and I will guarantee you will be entertained by Claudio's amazing yet disturbingly voluminous mane that tends to unfold over his head and covers his face, turning him into what I like to call a 'human mushroom'.