Written by Todd Spoth
Apr 17, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageVerizon Wireless Theater was packed last night with angry fans flexed to hear the heavier sounds of the night’s bill. We (Drew and I) had found our lucky parking spot and the parking attendants had received my $5 fee…entirely in quarters. As we romped up the stairs and emerged within a few yards of the venue, I realized how much I loved this venue and its location; as well as how much I missed urban mass transit (I wish we had a subway).

Head Automatica opened the show, however since we arrived a few songs into the second band’s set, we missed them. They are a rather interesting blend of energetic alt/prog rock that I have been meaning to catch live for some time.

Avenged Sevenfold…where do I start with these guys? I really thought I was witnessing the rebirth of a Motley Crue tour for a few moments. (and not in a good way) I remember first hearing about these guys a few years back, when they fell into the whole black clothes, black swoopy hair and makeup phase. They were playing smaller tours on a sans MTV front, yet still appealed to the masses of kids who thought they were cool for listening to something underground, but in actually, just listening to bad music.

It seems as of late they dawned a new image, that of tough guys and their live show production shows of it. Complete with pirate samples, chains, tattoos, even a tour title with the word “evil” in it; these guys’ set consisted of a boring sampling of songs that seemingly repeated themselves. The formula for the songs was a stew of double bass, mellow monster-balladesque interludes, heavy breakdowns, and a hint of whammy bar. During one break, a flag that resembled a confederate flag adorned with the band’s logo fell from the rafters, and the lead guitarist, Brian Haner Jr, better known as Synyster Gates, spilled into a lengthy guitar solo tributed to the late Dimebag Darrell of Texas natives Pantera.

Before the headlining act Coheed and Cambria performed, the restless crowd was kept at bay behind the veil of a large black curtain displaying nothing but the band’s name (Drew and I were kept at bay with the the sweet sounds of Hot Water Music courtesy of the venue’s between band playlist – quite possibly the best music all night) After the lights went off and the curtain fell, the sci-fi infatuated, prog rockers busted into their classic first song. For most of the first three songs, the entire stage and majority of the pit was engulfed in the thickest display of smoke/fog I have ever seen at a show. It was both amazing and annoying at times.

I’ve seen Coheed a number of times, including their first Houston appearance at Mary Jane’s when they were still handing out their burned demos. They have definitely come a long way; however seeing them numerous times has only made me come to realize one thing. While the band’s progressive musicianship is exquisite and they definitely don’t skimp music wise live, what they do skimp on is performance. Other than lead singer, Claudio’s, constant hair throws (which is more of a necessity rather than a stage cue) the band doesn’t seem happy on stage. I saw zero interaction between the band members during the set.

A few other things were of noteworthy mention. During a few songs of Avenged Sevenfold, Drew and I went to the back portion of the theater, where the merch tables were and  saw more than a few younger fans with Avenged Sevenfold shirts just sitting on the ground talking and/or leaving the venue entirely. If I like a band enough to be wearing their shirt, I’m definitely going to be watching them if they were playing live in the same building. After sharing some cheerful snickers at those poor souls, our excitement was supplemented by witnessing a long-haired fan try to retaliate against a member of the security team, as he was being escorted out of the barricade area. He was wrestled out and arrested shortly thereafter.

Regardless of the fact that there was countless things that I was bothered by at this show, the musicianship of the members of the two bands we did see were top-notch. These guys are definitely not your run of the mill punks. They can play. Don’t take my word for it…check out “Final Cut” off Coheed and Cambria’s latest LP. The band saved this new one for the end of their set, and rightfully so, as the guitar tracks have a wonderfully reminiscent Dark Side of the Moon feel. -Todd Spoth (www.toddspoth.com)