Written By Nathan Holt
Photo By Nathan Holt

Coheed and Cambria made a stop at the Congress Theater in Chicago with support from opening bands Between the Buried and Me and Russian Circles. Even though the balcony was closed for repairs, it didn’t stop fans from filling up the main floor to bursting as they filed in from the freezing cold.

The Chicago band Russian Circles were up first with their literally dark set. The only lighting they used were two light bulbs and a small work light behind each of the three band members. That, along with the pure instrumental music they played set an interesting vibe as through their half hour set. The songs they played were “Harper Lewis,” “Geneva,” “Mlàdek” and “Death Rides a Horse.”

The progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me was up next, hitting the stage with the song “Astral Body.” With a pace that moved back and forth like a roller coaster, the band had in interesting collection of sounds that made up their songs. With more backlights, a few bright LED lights and colorful changing LED wall that moved with the music, the lighting was far brighter than Russian Circles. While they really didn’t say too much to the crowd, they did take a short break from almost a constant hour of overall playing to greet Chicago and promote their newest album, Parallax II: Future Sequence. With a six song set that included “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest,” “Ants of the Sky,” Prequel to the Sequel” and “Extremophile Elite,” the band wrapped up their set with “Selkies: The Endless Obsession.”

Coheed and Cambria took to a dark stage with their first song “Pretelethal,” while the band’s leader Claudio Sanchez played a ukulele. From there, the lighting varied with mostly bright backlighting that illuminated the stage and it’s oddities. There were a couple projectors set up in each corner of the backdrop to display visuals, smooth and plain white mannequins in the back corners and a glowing hourglass shape that floated in the middle of their backdrop. The whole scene seemed like something from another universe, which is a unique point to the band. With most of their songs interlacing and building a large and rich story, the band captivated the audience like few others today do. The fluidity between the songs was great, having small clips of dialogue from their latest albums between most songs while the hourglass glowed kept the audience’s attention and pulled them further into the show and the band’s universe.

With songs like “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant,” “A Favor House Atlantic,” “Goodnight, Fair Lady,” “No World for Tomorrow,” “The Crowing,” “Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher” and “Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful” the band gave a diverse playlist from their albums. Sanchez and guitarist Travis Stever took a moment to address the crowd, thank them for coming out tonight and coming up with something random to talk to the crowd about before jumping into the song “The Afterman.” With an hour and a half set that also included the songs “Here We Are Juggernaut,” “Dark Side of Me” and “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3,” Stever would energetically move around the stage and Sanchez would whip his huge mane of hair to and fro while jumping around stage when he didn’t have to sing front and center.

The band has been through a few changes recently, including an addition of their new bassist Zach Cooper and the return of Josh Eppard who played drums on the first three albums. Both fit extremely well live with Cooper moving around stage constantly and Josh fitting right back into the groove of his old spot. The audience sang along with every song louder and louder, even into the encore of “Wake Up,” “The Hollow” and “Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute.” When the band wrapped up their set with the final epic song “Welcome Home,” Sanchez ran off stage at one point straight into the pit to play for the front row, as well as shred on his double neck guitar behind his head and with his mouth. With such a captivating set, it’s definitely one of my personal favorites this year.

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