Coheed And Cambria

support Siamese Fighting Fish
author TL date 12/06/13 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Coheed And Cambria are one of those bands that, despite the dilution of the early 00's emo scene they were carelessly lumped in with during their humble beginnings, have managed to carve themselves their own personal niche and following and have hence kept afloat in the music scene's otherwise shifty attention span. Good for them, but considering that tonight's show in Copenhagen coincides with the summer's only local performance from Mew - who are arguably Denmark's best band - drawing people to Amager Bio would probably have been a bit difficult. All the better then, that somebody has made the smart decision to book Siamese Fighting Fish - who are arguably the most written-about band on Rockfreaks.net - as support, considering that both the members of the band and their friends and fans are the kind of once-big Coheed And Cambria fans, that could maybe have been on the fence about going, if it weren't for the suddenly savory promise of this double-whammy.

Click their names to see more photos from Lykke Nielsen and Kenny Swan

Siamese Fighting Fish

Having seen SIFIFI about a gazillion times before, tonight is still novel, what with this likely being the largest stage the underground heroes have ever played, and the first time in a while they've had to act the support to a much more widely recognised band than their own. You can hear it too: Frontman Mirza Radonjica - a guy who, at his best/worst, looks and talks at the audience like that best drinking buddy of yours who has the look in his eye like he's planning to do unmentionable things with your sister - coming on all propriety and subdued nervousness. And they get off to a rough start as well, with there being waaaay too much reverb on Radonjica's vocals, and with Rasmus Krøyer's guitar being nowhere in the mix.

Still, experience quickly reveals its presence, as kinks are evened out and the band members make the most of the large stage, all playing with excited animation, with Morten Jakobsen looking especially excited to brandish his bass high up in the air and jump around as much as possible. The songs prove their quality as well, as the band - moving through some of their best cuts - has little trouble convincing the steadily growing audience to clap along at likely moments. Of course, most people assume cautiousness, and for a long stretch the room is too noticeably scarcely populated for any madness to really seize people.

Still, Siamese try on some cool things, bridging "Crap Is The New Black" into "Gods On Tv" in a cool way, while Radonjica flashes his vocal improvisations to places that are cool here, a little excessive there. Overall, it never becomes the kind of tornado-like performance I've gotten used to, partially also due to an uneven mix of instruments hindering the set throughout, but still, SIFIFI sell out almost every bit of merch they have after the show, so people must still have considered them rather impressive.

Coheed And Cambria

By the time Coheed And Cambria come on stage, the crowd has grown to a respectable size, even if Amager Bio is still not quite full. As they commence the set with "No World For Tomorrow" however, one thing quickly becomes apparent to this fan of old: Guitarist Travis Stever really wasn't kidding when he recently told me that the four-piece constellation they currently tour with is the best they've ever sounded - and I must add, looked. Stever, bassist Zach Cooper and main man Claudio Sanchez are much more mobile on stage than I can remember having seen them, and especially Stever's high backing vocals fits the band's songs much better than the awkward poppiness of the female backing singers the band once toured with. And speaking of the singing, Sanchez also makes more of his peculiarly thin voice than I've ever heard, sliding to falsetto highs and rounding airy lows with an ease I honestly thought I'd never hear from him.

The band moves on with the classic "A Favor House Atlantic", which instantly summons loud responses and singalongs from the audience, admittedly reinforcing a suspicion I came in with, namely that I'm not the only old Coheed And Cambria fan who's had a harder time feeling the band's material moving on from "No World For Tomorrow". So as the band decends upon a stretch of newer songs, I decide to withdraw to the back of the venue, both to not bum my more excited friends out and to get better vantage of the whole scene. As the set progresses and songs like "Vic The Butcher" and "The Afterman" give way to "Here We Are Juggernaut", I make note of constant tightness, dedicated movement and solid response as things that characterise the show.

One thing that irks me though, is the sampled, robotic speeches that are played between songs, presumeably to invoke an atmosphere from the band's much referenced sci-fi concept. It's hardly enough to really transport the audience there, and rather it feels like an excuse from having to be charming during tuning breaks, but hey, maybe that's just old cynical reviewer talk. What I do genuinely wonder at, is why the sound is never really altered from casting Coheed And Cambria - a quite guitar-heroic band on all counts - as a band that has all the guitar power of a litter of newborn kittens. Granted, you can hear the riff, but they really don't have the sense of "oomph" they need. And while we're at it with the details; as much as I love bands that know their limits, the set - which ends almost on the hour, with a triplet of "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3", "Domino The Destitute" and "Welcome Home" - is a rare example of how easily more could've been more. I realise this is a tour for the "Afterman" records, but still, is it me being "cranky older-is-better guy", or could they easily have sandwiched say; "The Suffering", "Ten Speed", "Devil In Jersey City", "Running Free" - or personal-favourites-I-know-I-will-never-get-to-hear "Three Evils" or "Gravemakers & Gunslingers" - in between every one or two new songs, and still only made the set a bearably longer hit parade?

Questions like those, and a questionable mix, mar the overall experience then, but judging from the dedicated singalongs and widely lit-up eyes that send "In Keeping Secrets" and "Welcome Home" off into the night, Coheed And Cambria have enough power in just a pair of their best songs to still ignite a spark in their audience, and seeing them perform so vividly in the stripped back quartet format was really encouraging as well... Though I think Sanchez' playing guitar with his teeth is getting a little tired and unnecessary by now? Okay, okay, I'll stop nitpicking, because overall, it really was quite alright, wasn't it?

Setlist:

  • No World for Tomorrow
  • A Favor House Atlantic
  • Goodnight, Fair Lady
  • Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant
  • Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher
  • Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful
  • The Afterman
  • Here We Are Juggernaut
  • Dark Side of Me
  • In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3

- Encore -

  • Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute
  • Welcome Home

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