Thoughts on Coheed and Cambria

Sep 19, 2018

Disclaimer: This is not a concert review and really is just me rambling about a band I like

Last Saturday, I went to go see Coheed and Cambria live. Coheed and Cambria is a progressive rock band. Prog rock is a genre that’s hard to define without hearing it. The way I see it, prog rock is definitely a more artsy genre. It’s usually complex musically and lyrically incorporating several genres such as jazz and pop but still maintaining an aggressive and heavy rock sound.

Coheed loves their concept albums. Most of their albums follow a storyline, called The Armory Wars. I don’t really pay much attention to it (you will learn that I’m a bad Coheed and Cambria fan) but it is extensive. It’s a science fiction concept and they’ve even made comics based on them.

I’ve been listening to Coheed and Cambria ever since the days of Rock Band. Everyone knows (or everyone should know) Welcome Home, which was one of the playable songs from Rock Band.

I was a shut-in as a kid and I remember meeting other people online and talked to them about Coheed and Cambria. I distinctly remember my friend sending me a WinRAR file of one of their albums via MSN. With that same friend, we would write fanfiction based on Coheed and Cambria songs and post them online. This was around 2010.

Yearly Listening

2012 and 2013 were prime years for me listening to Coheed and Cambria. I’ve been keeping track of the songs I’ve been listening to on ever since 2011 and I have a lot of data on my listening habits. In 2012, they released their album, The Afterman: Ascension. It was a really great album and it remains one of my favourite albums of all time. In fact, I even wrote a reaction blog post back in 2012 (it’s really cringy when I read it now).

After that, I kinda stopped keeping up with them. Their follow up albums didn’t really grab my attention although there were a couple of singles here and there that I did like.

Yearly Listening: Album Breakdown

I mainly just listened to three albums on repeat: The Afterman: Ascension, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Vol 1, and Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Vol 2. In 2013, The Afterman: Descension came out and I listened to it once or twice before writing it off. Also in 2015, I started using Spotify. It was great to listen to the rest of their discography without the guilt of listening to it “for free.”

Just to hammer the point even further, here is a better representation of the albums I listened to the past seven years.

Album Breakdown

94% of all songs that I listen to Coheed and Cambria come from three albums. It’s kinda crazy to think about. I’ve tried to listen to other albums in the past and they never stuck with me. Some of the albums don’t have great production which really turned me off. Which is a shame because now that I’ve revisited more of their albums, there are a lot of great songs hidden there.

However, I think the real reason why my listening count is so skewed to these albums is because I love putting individual songs on repeat.

Top 10 Songs

Apollo I: The Writing Writer is a song that really spoke to me back then. I can’t for the life of me remember why. Nowadays, I love it purely because of how good it sounds as a song. The lyrics don’t resonate with me as much anymore. This song is really sinister but it’s a great song to sing to.

When I first listened to Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful, it quickly became my favourite song on The Afterman: Ascension and my favourite Coheed and Cambria song in general. This was another case of relatable lyrics. I’m taking this out of context of The Armory Wars but I saw this as a song about someone who is too good that one could not possibly be with that person. I wish she’d stay mine, but her place is in some other time. Man, that still makes me nod sadly every time.

Anyway, I could talk forever about the rest of the songs but Apollo I: The Writing Writer and Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful remain as my favourite Coheed and Cambria songs.

Despite not knowing most of their discography, I just knew I had to go see Coheed and Cambria live.

The Concert

I follow the band on Facebook and when I saw that they posted tour dates, I immediately went to look. I was seriously in disbelief that they were coming to Calgary. I don’t know why I was so surprised, they’ve been to Calgary a couple times but I’ve missed every single one of them until now.

I bought the tickets super in advance, the day they come out back in June. I posted on social media asking if anyone liked Coheed and Cambria enough to go see them with me but no bites. The only people who responded were my friends from England and Australia. Of course. But since most of my friends are unemployed broke university students, I didn’t feel like pestering any of them to go to a $50 concert with me.

Pro tip if you bought general admission and not VIP: don’t go to the concert super early. I made that mistake. VIP/Gold/Platinum ticket holders were all lined up around two hours before the concert but they didn’t start forming the regular line until around an hour before doors opened. I could have shelled out the extra money to see that one extra song and all the other perks but the concept seemed really ridiculous to me. Looking back on it now, maybe it would have been worth it. I love Coheed and Cambria enough that I should probably give them more of my money.

Also my phone ran out of battery like an hour before the concert started and I only took a picture of the sign. I’m slightly salty that I didn’t check if my power bank was charged first before taking it with me.

Signage hype and the only picture I took

Anyway, once I got in there, I immediately went for the merch table. I instantly got flashbacks to my first concert which was My Chemical Romance at the very same venue. I bought a sweater that had Unheavenly Creatures on the back of it. I kinda wish I got a tour shirt instead but I was nervous at the last second and I didn’t know how to say that so I just asked for the easiest thing: the sweater.

After I got the sweater, I had no idea where to go to get inside. It turned out they opened the entrances on the side. The hall was split off into two halves: the beer gardens and the non-beer gardens half. At first I thought the whole thing was age-gated and for some reason, even though I am well over 18, I was nervous seeing the “No minors” sign to the beer gardens. In the end, I just stealthily walked behind a mom with her kid into the all ages section of the hall.

Since I went alone to the concert, I got there and tried to scope out the best place to stand. There wasn’t a lot of people yet so I tried to get as close as possible. When I looked around, I found one of my family friends! He was really surprised that I liked Coheed and Cambria. He couldn’t process the fact that he had a “cool cousin.”

So I talked to him and his girlfriend for a bit but then I saw one of my friends from university walk by and I joined him instead. I was relieved I found one of my friends because I secretly wanted a mosh pit shield. He was also good company and we bonded over Coheed and reminscing about university since we were both graduated.

The doors opened at 18:30 but the first act didn’t start until 19:30. It was a band from Ontario, Crown Lands. They were pretty good! It was just a duo (I was instantly reminded of The White Stripes but their sound is completely different). The guitarist had the longest hair and beard I had ever seen. When he busted out his double-necked guitar, he looked like a guitar Jesus.

The next act was Protest the Hero. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Protest the Hero from one of my friends. I’ve listened to a couple of their songs and I really like Without Prejudice. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan even though I recognize that they are pretty good.

The vocalist was hilarious. In between songs he would tell stories about past concerts they played at Calgary. I think that’s a really great way to connect to audiences. People like being remembered! Anyway, they were phenomenal. The band is pretty intense so there was mosh pits every single song. I was in a place right where the mosh pits kept forming and I did get pushed around a couple of times. Whoops.

Finally… Coheed and Cambria came out.

The Setlist

When I saw Claudio and his full head of hair, I freaked out. The fog machines were kicked up a notch and the lights were shining behind them like they were rock gods descending onto Earth. I will admit, since The Dark Sentencer is a rather new song, I didn’t know it very well but it was amazing to hear.

This is another song that I’m not super familiar with but I had been listening to it a couple days prior to the concert and it was growing on me. I loved hearing the crowd sing along to the chorus. So what? Here we are, juggernaut!

I really like this song! It was such a banger to listen to it live. I always mess up the chorus though when Claudio sings “Sayanora”. I like this song because it’s definitely a song I can dance to.

It’s a crime that I haven’t listened to the album In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 until this week. There are a lot of good songs on this album. The title track is really good and pretty long, clocking in at eight minutes. Singing along to the chorus made me feel like I was marching into battle especially with my fist pumping into the air.

The guitar break near the end was absolutely legendary. I forgot that it was there in the song so when the chorus started up again I was caught off guard. But it was beautiful.

Unfortunately, I don’t like The Crowing a whole lot. It’s a good song but not really a song I would like to hear live. I prefer really pumped up songs for concerts and this one was a bit too mellow for me. Strangely enough, I think I do like this song better live than on the album.

This is another one of those songs that started to grow on me. The chorus is super catchy. It’s a bit mellow like The Crowing but has enough energy to keep it going. I messed up the chorus though. Since I’m not familiar with the lyrics, I kept saying “yeah” instead of “this” even though I knew it was “this.” I was actually thinking about this exact thing before the concert. I knew I would mess up those exact lyrics, haha.

Good eye, sniper. Now I shoot, you run. This song has a bunch of good lines. It was a feel-good song so much that I danced a bit to this song. There’s no other way to do it. Even though I don’t have much to say about this song, it’s definitely a favourite from the concert.

Before the song started, they played an All Mother sound clip. My friend and I got excited because we thought they would play a song from The Afterman but it didn’t end up happening. So while it was a disappointment, this song made up for it.

When this song started, I literally yelled “Yes!” This is one of my favourite songs. I wish I was a lyric fanatic and then I would have sang along a lot more to this song. I feel sorry for the people who had to hear me mess up the lyrics to the song. Ten Speed, if I must then I must is a line I messed up a lot, haha!

This is a totally underrated song (underrated by me). I did like this song back then but I think this song will be a new favourite. I sang a lot to this song. If it was up to me. I would have figured you out, way before the year clocked out.

Unfortunately, The Color Before the Sun is an album that fell off my radar. I only really liked Here to Mars from this album. So much that I’ve memorized this song. I also heard my friend beside me belt out the chorus every single time.

Claudio introduced these songs as songs he wrote about/for his wife. I never really liked Wake Up much (too cheesy of a love song for me) but it was touching and a good sing-along session (somehow I memorized the lyrics without liking the song). So I was just swaying back and forth listening to Claudio crooning this song.

This song totally was not on my radar. I did not listen to The Color Before the Sun in depth and most of the singles other than Here to Mars didn’t stick with me. I felt like a lot of people just stood there with their heads slightly bobbing to this song. There was one guy up in the front of me who was going crazy to this song. He was dedicated.

AHHHHH. What a good “last song.” Claudio gave up his guitar and just paraded around the stage with his mic. It was so weird seeing Claudio singing without a guitar in his hands. I freaked out during this song. It’s just so good. It made me super hype for the album. Oh pretty angel, swinging from your cable. I fear my dear, the end is near. So run, run, run, run, run, like a son of the gun.

Is it an encore even if everyone knows you can’t end a show without playing that number one signature song? When Claudio came back out, his hair was tied into a ponytail. Then he took out his double-necked guitar and unleashed his hair. My friend was saying how he hoped Claudio would do it and he did.

There is absolutely no words for the performance for this song. It’s literally their trademark song. Every single moment and beat was just pure getting lost in the sheer awesomeness of the song. My neck hurts solely because of this song because I was just headbanging like crazy.

When it was over, I was in disbelief. I didn’t want it to end. It was an hour of bliss and it ended just like that. Being able to groove out to the songs were great. I am a little peeved that they didn’t play ANY songs from The Afterman, especially since that’s my favourite album. That just means I will have to see them again and hope they play it!


Seeing Coheed and Cambria was so surreal. I can’t really believe it happened. When I saw Alexisonfire, I was just so absorbed in seeing them in the flesh. This concert was definitely more about the music and just grooving out even if I didn’t know the songs too well. It just felt great to be surrounded by people who also love Coheed. I’m still salty that they didn’t play a single song from The Afterman because that is my all time favourite album but overall I think they had a good setlist. The band isn’t really known for hyping up crowds or crowd interaction. They really do focus on creating a great atmosphere and a musically oriented show. Which was great.

Would I go see Coheed and Cambria again? Hell yes. I’m super excited for their next album coming out next month, Unheavenly Creatures. The singles they’ve been releasing the past year have been really good and I can’t wait to get my hands on the album.

In the meantime, I need to listen to the rest of Coheed’s discography.