Coheed and Cambria with Glassjaw: Live Music Review
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending Coheed and Cambria’s latest LA tour stop. They remain one of the most exciting rock bands to see live.
This was my third time seeing them in concert, as I did not get into their music until pretty recently (2012, shame on me). I saw them at the Observatory in Orange County last year, and at the Wiltern with Between the Buried and Me and Russian Circles in 2013. I almost didn’t go since I had seen them so recently, but when I found out that Glassjaw was touring with them I knew I had to attend.
This time, the show was at the Hollywood Palladium, where I had previously seen Mastodon and Clutch. The Palladium has a great open floor plan so that everyone in the house has a pretty good view. It’s also very easy to get to, the only downside is that it’s in Hollywood. If you’ve never been to Hollywood, you might not know what I’m talking about. Having lived in Hollywood for a year, I could die happy if I never went back.
Unfortunately, the show started early and I was late. (LA rush hour traffic is the worst in the country, and Hollywood is especially bad.) Coupled with that, my buddy John had a problem retrieving his ticket from the online vendor so I had to step in since I was the purchaser. (I was happy to help, I’m not a terrible friend. I’m just explaining, not complaining.) I walked in the door just as Silver Snakes played their last note, so I missed the whole set. I would have liked to see them, and will try to do so next time they’re in town. They’re an LA band so that shouldn’t be too long. I’ve been listening to some of their songs, and I’ve posted my favorite one for your listening pleasure. It’s got kind of a Thrice feel to it, so if you like Dustin Kensrue and company, you’ll probably like this. Check out their site here.
Setlist: Electricity | Red Wolf | Devotion | Charmer | Raindance | Glass
Live Performance: N/A
I the Mighty
I the Mighty was next up. They’re another Cali band, this time from San Francisco. Unlike for Silver Snakes, I didn’t research them first or listen to them at all before they played so I was a virgin listener. I really enjoyed them, a lot. The energy was great, despite the thin crowd only just starting to fill in. You could tell these guys were having FUN. Isn’t that the point?
The music reminded me of a punkier Protest the Hero. Obviously, I can’t comment on the setlist, but the band did manage to keep the energy up without sounding repetitive. Even the mic check was interesting. The singer growled and sang a few lines in falsetto. Someone behind me muttered, “That was awesome.” I agreed, silently. Before I the Mighty left the stage, the singer thanked everyone for watching and let us know that they were fans, too, of both Glassjaw and Coheed. He rolled up his sleeve to show us his Keywork tattoo, to which the crowd went nuts. (The Keywork is a symbol from Claudio’s comic book, and a logo for Coheed and Cambria.)
As I said, I really enjoyed this band, which is why you should always arrive on time to support the opening acts. Sometimes you’ll hear garbage, but sometimes you’ll hear a gem. This one was a gem. Well done, guys.
Setlist: Lady of Death | Psychomachia | Failures | The Dreamer | The Lying Eyes of Miss Erray | Speak to Me
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★ out of 5
The crowd really filled in after I the Mighty left the stage. I’d be willing to bet that at least half the attendees came to see Glassjaw just as much as they came for Coheed and Cambria. Glassjaw, for those who don’t know, is a post hardcore band from upstate New York and one of the pioneering bands for the genre. I had only seen them once before, a long time ago. I think it was in 2001 or 2002. It was before Worship and Tribute came out in 2002, so it’s been at least 14 years. (Wow, that doesn’t seem possible.)
I was very excited to see them, and the crowd went nuts when they opened with Tip Your Bartender, the first song off their 2002 record. Almost immediately, I realized something was off. They seemed to be playing the song at a slower pace. (I’ve embedded a video so you can hear the original version.) I understand the guys are pushing 40 and can’t be as wild and chaotic as they were in their twenties, but why not play the song we love in its original tempo? This is a problem that carried to every song.
It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Glassjaw’s performance. I did. It was just flawed and uneven. The band’s energy and effort seemed to fluctuate between hyper and lethargic. Lethargic is not a word I thought I’d ever use to describe Glassjaw as their records are some of the fastest, most chaotic songs ever recorded. When they were good, they were REALLY good. The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports sticks out as the highlight for me. However, it didn’t last throughout the set.
All but three songs were taken from Worship and Tribute, their fantastic 2002 record. Normally, this would bug me, but since it is such a strong record I was on board. I would have liked to have heard some older stuff though. They didn’t play anything off of their first EP or LP.
I feel obligated to mention this: Towards the end of the set, a male fan climbed up to the top of the speakers on stage right and took his clothes off. Well, his shirt came off and he pulled down his pants and his underwear. I’m not sure what would possess someone to do something like that, but some people thought it was funny and others found it crude. I just thought it was dumb. As this was an all ages show, he could have faced charges of exposing himself to minors. The security guards grabbed him and took him back stage. I’m not sure what became of him. Daryl Palumbo, the singer, looked a bit annoyed, but other than that the band didn’t really react.
Setlist: Tip Your Bartender | Mu Empire | Pink Roses | Ape Dos Mil | The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports | Jesus Glue | New White Extremity | Shira | Two Tabs of Mescaline
Setlist: ★★½ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★½ out of 5
Overall: ★★★ out of 5
Coheed and Cambria
Finally, Coheed and Cambria took the stage. They opened with an acoustic song off the new record, which I thought was the only misstep. There’s not much more I can say about how good these guys are in a live setting that I haven’t already said in previous reviews. The energy is non-stop, the crowd participation is the best I’ve ever seen, and the setlist has always been pretty varied. They played a lot of new songs (as this was a tour to promote the new album), but they didn’t forget about the old fans. I can really appreciate that.
For this tour, they had a series of Christmas lights set up in grid that would spin and make patterns and spell words. A very simple but effective visual aid. Claudio thanked the audience repeatedly for our support and you could tell it was really genuine.
There were two highlights for me: The first was when Claudio was given his double necked guitar and he played it like a cheesy 80s metal guitarist would. He used his teeth, he played it behind his back, etc. It was really played up for laughs but he still could shred. The second was a really sweet moment towards the end of the show when one of the audience members hoisted his young son onto his shoulders and Claudio gave him a big smile. To me, this shows that good music can transcend generations and bring us together regardless of our ages.
The encore was three songs, and once again they closed with Welcome Home. This is the third time I’ve seen them and the third time they’ve done this. It’s a great closer, don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Setlist: Ghost | In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 | Blood Red Summer | Island | Everything Evil | Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant | A Favor House Atlantic | Here to Mars | The Hard Sell | No World for Tomorrow | Atlas | The Audience | Peace to the Mountain
Encore: You Got Spirit, Kid | Eraser | Welcome Home
Setlist: ★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★ out of 5
I enjoyed this show very much. In the past, I’ve said I’d see Coheed and Cambria whenever they come to town, and that hasn’t changed. You can tell they love what they do and they make sure the audience is loving what they do as well. It’s a perfect mix of good musicianship with a strong performance. While they’re not my favorite band, they’re definitely my favorite live band. Go see them.
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