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Coheed and Cambria + The Blood Brothers + Dredg + Mewithoutyou

Erik Leijon

Watching a near-sellout crowd recite lyrics like biblical text makes you wonder: when the hell did these guys get so big?

Coheed and Cambria + The Blood Brothers + Dredg + Mewithoutyou

Coheed and Cambria + The Blood Brothers + Dredg + Mewithoutyou

City: Denver
Venue: Ogden Theater
Date: 2005-10-07

Calculating the next big thing in music is an inexact science. Some bands ascend quickly on a wave of hype, while others bide their time, perfecting their craft and slowly developing their fan base. Coheed & Cambria, Blood Brothers, and Dredg have all had their share of media attention, but still, watching a near-sellout crowd recite each band's lyrics like biblical text makes you realize how gradual (and subtle) their development has been. Watching four bands perform may seem like a marathon that could only detract from the experience, but with the first three acts playing for less than 45 minutes each it felt as if you were only getting a sample of each. Pennsylvanian-quartet Mewithoutyou was the only band to arrive without a hardcore following, but their scratchy guitars, manic percussion, and angst-ridden themes fit into the proceedings nicely. Lead singer Aaron Weiss was a powerful orator with a bushy beard and lumberjack attire. His style befit the unique and quirky nature of the bill; his singing resembled slam-poetry mixed with Southern preacher pontification, both offset by brief screams of anguish. Just as peculiar was his chaotic dancing style, which recalled the more wild side of Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie.

Dredg's Gavin Hayes offered the polar opposite of Weiss' rage-infected spoken-word style. To be fair, Dredg's music only lightly touches the tropes of emo, and their more progressive elements pale in comparison with the intentionally grandiose rocking of Coheed & Cambria. But Dredg do manage to infuse a dreamy element into their sound that conjures up old Floyd and haunting lullabies. Dredg have managed to develop a loyal fanbase with little exposure (despite being on Interscope since 2001) and through relentless touring. Their 2005 release, Catch Without Arms, is currently riding the same wave as other progish-revivalists such as Coheed and the Mars Volta. But their live sound is most impressive for its passion, not its musical prowess. Drummer Dino Campanella's frantic style forced him through dozens of drum sticks, but Hayes was the star of the set, even though his delicate voice is better suited for putting a baby to sleep than fronting an aggressive rock band. Despite the jerking shift between Dredg and Mewithoutyou, nothing could prepare the fans for the auditory onslaught to come from Seattle quintet the Blood Brothers. They came out with an insane rage that never relented. Singers Jordan Blilie's and Johnny Whitney's screams interwove seamlessly, and while a constant barrage of yelling can become tiresome, they both had the vocal power and talent to bring new quirks to each song.

The Blood Brothers
The Blood Brothers combined theatrical alt-metal with danceable bass-lines, so fans often found themselves screaming, moshing, and swinging their hips all at the same time. Hiding deep within their extreme sound is a series of incredibly catchy hooks and a dramatic flair. The new material seemed to go over best with the fans, especially the immediately recognizable and addictive piano intro from "Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers" and the refrain of the title track to 2004's Crimes. After watching Denver faithfully repeat the chants and "woah-ohs" from every Coheed & Cambria song, it's not entirely crazy to say that C&C could become the next Maiden. After all, the band has already managed to take the best and worst elements of '70s stadium rock and splice them with the best and worst of '80s hair metal. The long guitar solos, elaborate light shows, fist-pumping refrains, and utterly pretentious storylines in their songs only scratch the surface of what makes C&C so amazing (and also so deliciously campy). An apt comparison would be The Darkness -- a band so intentionally camp that, while you cannot deny their musical ability, you can't really take seriously either. Coheed's latest album, Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness is undeniably over the top. Yet on stage the passion from the band and the audience is so evident that you can't help but get swept up in the moment. The band perfectly alternated between old-fashioned hard rock epics a la Dio and quick paced emo-punk tracks like their old hit "A Favor House Atlantic". What intrigued most was the potential of some of their new ballads. "Wake Up" could easily be placed on a teen movie soundtrack and become a monster success.

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