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Coheed and Cambria
With the Dear Hunter and Porcupine Tree
The Wiltern
August 12, 2010

As I have lamented in the past, it’s often disappointing to me how bad the sound quality is for the opening band on a major bill show. Though I am not too familiar with their music, what I’ve heard I like, and I was excited to go out and see the Dear Hunter, and I wanted to actually HEAR the Dear Hunter at their show. Such was not the case.

The band is amazingly talented, and their songs are beautiful and intricate, featuring swirling melodies, wavering harmonies, and a blend of pianos, guitars, and synth. The sound at the Wiltern that night did NOT do them any justice. What we ended up hearing was a muddled mess- at times you couldn’t even hear the piano, and the vocals faded in and out of songs. I can’t even talk about the harmonies- I couldn’t make them out over the rest of the mess. It was apparent (to me, anyway), that the band is talented, but someone needs to hire a better sound guy PRONTO.

The sound guy managed to get it somewhat together by the final songs of their set- but by then it was time to move on to the next band. A mere 25 minutes of distortion and they’re pushed unceremoniously aside for Porcupine Tree. Maybe it was first night of the tour jitters?

The rest of the show went off without a hitch. Porcupine Tree rocked it- but sadly, I can’t say I enjoyed it. I know the buzz surrounding them is great, that several members of Racket love them, and that they are prog-rock at it’s best. I really wanted to like these guys. I just kind of ended up bored.

Their set had flashy videos and lights (I felt on the border of a strobe- induced seizure for the most of the set), the songs were really long, and I just felt kind of underwhelmed. I will say though, they are some amazingly talented musicians- even if I don’t personally care for the music, I can acknowledge that. I would imagine that they’re best to experience locked in a basement, on vinyl, with the sound turned way up and your eyes closed. I mean their latest album is a 55 minute long track, full of psychedelic, progressive good old fashioned rock n roll, mostly with long instrumental breaks- I just don’t think that translates well live, at least for my taste in a show.

Coheed and Cambria was a lot more fun than the previous two bands- as soon as they got on stage the crowd started moving. They played a lot of crowd favorites, starting with “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3,” playing an acoustic ballad or two, and finally ending on “Welcome Home.” They kept their energy up on stage, told a story or two, and overall, played a really decent show.

I think if I knew more C&C songs, I would probably have enjoyed myself more, but I definitely loved watching the fans scream along with the band. I know, I know, I went to a show in which I was almost totally unfamiliar with the music- but in my defense, a live show says a lot about a band.

Even if the venue doesn’t do the band justice, you can really see the talent in a band- especially in more intricate bands like Porcupine Tree and TDH, in which members switch from guitars to pianos to synths, and the drummer is laying down complicated rhythms to match. The overall experience is interesting, when you don’t know a band- you learn some songs, you see just how much the fans love them, and maybe you come away with something to add to your repertoire.

–Caitlin Elgin