Written by Julie Ann Shaw
Coheed and Cambria came to Southern California to celebrate 20 years of gifting this world with genre-defying music based on the comics created by lead singer, Claudio Sanchez.
However, they did not come to Los Angeles, San Diego, or any other major city that has built a reputation for filling our souls with music. Coheed and Cambria decided they would play a sold-out show at Pappy & Harriet’s, a restaurant and music venue with an indoor and an outdoor stage, several outdoor bars and food stand for hot dogs and hamburgers, which sits on the edge of a very small town in the middle of the desert outside Palm Springs.
Pioneertown is exactly what it sounds like, originally built in 1946, as not just a set for western movies and television shows, but as an actual functional town where the cast and crew could live and play while filming. Today, in addition to remaining a functioning western livable filming set, it is a tourist attraction with almost daily western shows in the middle of Main Street. The fact that Coheed and Cambria decided to play in a venue like this made the show extraordinary and just plain fun.
To start the evening, the opening band was the Philadelphia-based band, Sheer Mag, with Tina Halladay (vocals), Hart Seely (bass), Matt Palmer (rhythm guitar/keyboard), Giacomo Zatti (drums), and Kyle Seely (lead guitar). Halladay owned the stage like no one I had ever seen before. The second she started singing all attention was on her and it was impossible to pull yourself away from the stage as she is a remarkable combination of Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper.
The lights went down and Coheed and Cambria, Claudio Sanchez (lead vocals, guitar), Zach Cooper (bass), Travis Stever (guitar), and Josh Eppard (drums), took the stage.
After happily standing in the freezing desert for hours, with absolutely zero cell service, and only the alcohol and hot dogs to keep us warm, we were more than ready for them, and the massive amount of hair that was about to fly around on stage. They opened with In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, which was quickly followed by You Got Spirit, Kid.
They continued to excite the audience with an expansive set that included a taste of their upcoming album, Vaxis-Act II: A Window Of The Waking Mind, a continuation of their Amory Wars storyline, with the song “Shoulders.” Next came a three-song throwback to their first album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, with “Junesong Provision,” “Devil in Jersey City,” and “Everything Evil.”
The set was periodically interjected with stories of when they were first starting out 20 years ago, and no one understood what they were trying to do. However, now, they are overcome with gratitude to have such a loyal and wonderful following who embrace their eccentric artistic adventures, stories, and characters, and are willing to drive to the middle of nowhere for a chance to become a part of the fantasy world that they have created.
As the night went on, each song was greeted with more excitement than the last, playing fan favorites like “A Favor House Atlantic” and “The Suffering.” The smog on stage intensified as the lights and lasers glowed through, creating the illusion of being inside one of their pieces of sci-fi artwork.
Then came the finale. If you could only make it for two songs, these were the songs to show up for. The first encore was “The Liars Club,” another insanely mind-blowing taste from their upcoming tenth studio album, Vaxis-Act II. Last, but not least, came the song. The song introduced Coheed and Cambria to millions of people, myself included. The song that made me fall in love with them and jump at the chance to drive three hours each way just to see them, “Welcome Home.”
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