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Review: Coheed and Cambria bring Columbus into alternate universe

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Coheed and Cambria performed Oct. 27 at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.  Credit: Courtesy of Press Here

Coheed and Cambria performed Oct. 27 at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.
Credit: Courtesy of Press Here

Claudio Sanchez’s thick, shoulder-length curly locks bounced to and fro as he gracefully sang lyrics and plucked away at his guitar. Sometimes, it smothered his entire face as tufts of it puffed in and out with the lyrics, others flailed chaotically back and forth during a guitar solo.

The Coheed and Cambria frontman has ambition just as massive as his hair, and it reaches into an alternate universe that he created to share with the world.

The progressive rock band shared its many concept albums with Columbus Sunday, performing about an 80-minute set inside at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.

Many bands in the past have created unique concept albums that have permanently put a stamp in music history: Pink Floyd had “Dark Side of The Moon,” The Who had “Tommy” and, of course, who could forget the famous “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” from The Beatles? While these great rock bands shared their themes with the world through only one or two albums, Coheed and Cambria take it a step further. The group’s entire discography is one big concept.

Each album tells a continuing science fiction story written by vocalist Sanchez called “The Amory Wars” that has not only spanned its studio albums, but has been translated into a comic book series and novel with Sanchez at the helm.

The series follows the journey of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon, who are husband and wife set out on a struggle against Wilhelm Ryan, the evil Supreme Tri-Mage of the fictional galaxy Heaven’s Fence. The amount of depth and personality Sanchez pours into his characters reflects from his personal life with his parents and relationships, and translates further into the emotional power of his music.

Sanchez’s singing style has a striking similarity to Rush lead singer Geddy Lee in the sense that he sings unusually high-pitched with sheer power and explosiveness. His brilliant creative mind, combined with Travis Stever on guitar, Josh Eppard on drums and Zach Cooper on bass, brilliantly brings the fictional universe of Heaven’s Fence to life.

Based in science fiction, many of their songs began with some sort of futuristic recording or take-off countdown. This gave the audience a great opportunity to build the anticipation by counting down the seconds until a song would metaphorically lift off.

Silver human busts and different stage props littered the stage, giving the show a very “alien” fee. Sanchez grabbed one of the busts at one point and used it to strum his guitar, resulting in quickly broken strings flying in all directions.

The band’s latest album, “The Afterman: Descension” concentrates on the character Sirius Amory. Tracks like “Gravity’s Union” express strong character emotion, while “Dark Side of Me” and its slow graceful tune eerily match a character’s descent into madness. Sometimes the story can be hard to decipher, but if tackled in chronological order, the masterwork of Sanchez can come fully to life.

Instrumentally, Coheed and Cambria delivered a powerful performance. Sanchez and Stever dueled guitars, bounced around stage and screamed emotionally as crowd surfers never ceased to end.

The band concluded with its famous song “Welcome Home,” in which Sanchez played a double-necked guitar, in what resembled a Led Zeppelin-like ballad. During the lengthy solo, he played behind his head, with his teeth and ran wildly around stage pumping up the fans. Sanchez had to stop and tame his hair halfway through the set, most likely because of the extreme temperature under his lion’s mane of a hairstyle after delivering such an epic performance.

In addition to Coheed and Cambria, indie bands I the Mighty and Balance And Composure also played at the show.

When discussing his Keywork forearm tattoo, which was a symbol used to represent the fictional universe created by Sanchez, I the Mighty singer Brent Walsh said, “This is the first thing I deemed OK to be permanently on my body.”

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