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Thursday, Thrice, Coheed and Cambria
Behind the music

Sometimes the music they play on the PA between bands means something; sometimes it doesn’t. Last Saturday night at Avalon, the selections seemed premonitory. You could hear echoes of the Afghan Whigs’ "Gentlemen" in the headlining set from Thursday that followed it: in drummer Tucker Rule’s loping rhythms, which were whacked out on a stripped-down kit and an enormous bass drum; in guitar chords that empathized like piano chords; even, if only a little bit, in singer Geoff Rickly’s anguished pleading. (Greg Dulli: secret godfather of emo?) Thrice went on after their audience had been subjected to most of Metallica’s Garage Days Re-Revisited EP, and if the band’s set came off as an odd but intriguing cross between the menacing death boogie of Entombed and Blink-182’s choirboy pop punk, there were at least a few moments in the title track from their new The Artist in the Ambulance (Island) that betrayed a fondness for "Master of Puppets."

Coheed and Cambria, the ludicrously tuneful prog-thrash band from upstate New York, were a little harder to anticipate. I would’ve voted for a Rush appetizer — so the emo kids could hear where singer Claudio Sanchez gets his nasal squeak — or maybe Queensrÿche, to name another batch of techie-metal geeks with multiple space-opera concept albums. Instead, they warmed up the crowd with the Darkness — and their bearded, trucker-hatted, bull-roaring bass player sported the T-shirt, no less.

As far as I could tell, C&C had absolutely nothing in common with the English overlords of arena-rock nostalgia, unless you want to get nebulous enough to count an abiding love of various abused ’80s hard-rock genres. There was not a hint of Loverboy in their eight-minute epic "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," the mouthful of a title track from their second album, though they managed to smash together Metallica crunch and waltzy Tool lope and one of the prettiest, most impenetrable choruses ("Man your battle stations/We’ll have you dead pretty soon") since Sunny Day Real Estate called it quits. I was about to give up on that Darkness/arena-rock connection, too, until they started into "Blood Red Summer," and there it was, right at the beginning: a set of unmistakable start-stop power chords, decommissioned for use since the heyday of Journey and the Cars. It wasn’t quite "Don’t Stop Believin’," but close enough.


Issue Date: November 28 - December 4, 2003
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