Pop, prog, butt
The rock is a difficult beast to pin down. It comes in all shapes and sizes, wearing all manner of ridiculous dress. The three bands that visited Sacramento Memorial Auditorium this past Monday evening all brought a little something different to the table, but they all unequivocally brought the rock.
Opener Head Automatica, a poppy ensemble run by Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo, exhibited the rock of the crack-cocaine variety—as in high energy, blissful and addictive. It’s a shame that they were saddled with the poorest sound mix of the evening by far—something (probably everything) was either too loud or too muddy for the entirety of the band’s time onstage. But despite any auditory issues, singer Palumbo—sporting a dapper moustache—constantly frolicked around the stage and struck many a rock-star pose during his group’s all-too-brief set.
After a grueling 40-minute changeover, the obvious highlight of the night took the stage. Coheed and Cambria is a sci-fi-loving four-piece that brings a fascinating blend of scenester emo, ’70s prog and timeless über-technical metal to the table. Curiously, a video backdrop barraged the audience with menacing imagery that ranged from flaming skulls to exploding planets; hell, even a winged medieval guillotine rolled onstage ominously during the band’s final number.
Thankfully, this was a co-headlining type of affair, so Coheed was given plenty of time to play all its singles as well as stretch out its jam muscles. It was surprising to see guitarist Claudio Sanchez shred as much as he did, since he’s also the group’s uniquely voiced singer. But the wild-haired frontman soloed it up behind his back, with his teeth and on a double-neck guitar and—for the grand finale of solos—went at his six-string with a violin bow.Avenged Sevenfold, conversely, brought the rock like your older brother did when he sported a mullet and drove a Fiero. Irrefutably, “A7X” plays music that is a throwback to the era of Dr. Feelgood—one guitarist was even a dead ringer for Nikki Sixx. While they thumped considerably, and certainly had the already-energetic crowd crapping its pants with glee, the tunes themselves fell into an overly predictable pattern right quick: First we do some dueling-guitar tap solos and then a soaring chorus. Then we break it down with a nu-metal chugga-chugga start-stop bridge. Rinse, repeat.
Although technically proficient, these butt-rockers definitely put a higher emphasis on appearance. Almost everyone in the band was either sleeveless or shirtless, with bandannas flapping out of their tight jeans’ back pockets; the non-Nikki guitarist even had the nuts to strut around wearing sunglasses in the darkened arena. The surging crowd definitely seemed to buy it, but those of us who’ve been around long enough to remember the bands these wieners shamelessly emulate were unimpressed.
Indeed, the rock comes to us in many forms.