Coheed and Cambria with Rainer Maria at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), tonight (Thursday, April 1) at 7:30 pm (doors). $16 advance, all ages. 416-870-8000, 416-323-1251. Rating: NNNNN
People fall in love with strange things. I had a friend who fell in love with a dog. Luckily, it was platonic love. Otherwise, there would have been hell to pay, as I was the dog's owner and do not stand for funny stuff involving dogs. New York state's Coheed and Cambria are another strange thing that people are falling in love with. The progressively rocking quartet is named after two characters created by gigantically haired lead singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez.
C&C are key figures in the struggle to save the universe that the band's emotive prog sound attempts to encapsulate. You can hear all about this world on their newest offering, the sweepingly titled In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3.
The band's profile has risen in the last year. Their Opera House appearance was shifted to the much-larger Phoenix due to an overabundance of fans.
In an early afternoon phone convo from Austin, Texas, at the tail end of their first visit to South By Southwest, Sanchez attempts to explain some of the mythos of his storyline to me. It involves some sort of triangle-related problem that affects the gravity (or lack thereof) of the planets in our solar system.
Apparently, in the land of Coheed and Cambria, there is no Earth and the planets don't rotate. If this makes little sense, don't worry. You can enjoy the songs as part of the whole interstellar concept or just take them as straight cosmic rock. In case you do fall in love with the concept, however, Sanchez is used to fans' weird theories about the universe.
"The audience comes up with their own ideas of what the songs are about and what the concept is, so there's always stuff out there that's true to the story, but at the same time there are elements that aren't so true."
The band also plans to release a comic based on the storyline that promises to further clarify issues.
IKSSE:3 is a pretty tall order of an album, with Sanchez's elastic, often high-pitched vocals wailing over music that ranges from the most sparsely arranged mellowness to T. Rex-influenced anthemic glam and unbelievably bombastic semi-classical metal.
Although the story tie-in is interesting, it's probably the playing skills of the band that win them fans. I posit that these guys are so talented and progressive instrumentally that they could play literally any genre of music, and Sanchez agrees.
"Our drummer, Josh (Eppard), is actually a rapper. He's put out a solo album called Weird Science, and it's actually very good. When most people hear about it, they don't have respect, but then they hear it and are blown away."
Sanchez says there's no such thing as too progressive.
"If radio says you gotta have a song that's three minutes and 33 seconds long in order to get played, don't go trying to write a song that's got those time constraints. Take back the radio. Go back to Stairway To Heaven, when it was cool to play an eight- or nine-minute song."
Who knew that a bunch of 20-somethings with diverse musical tastes could find common ground in Led Zeppelin and become expansive galactic revolutionaries in the process?