A Window Of The Waking Mind Tour – Opening night at Miami’s FPL Solar Park Amphitheater: South Floridians beat the July heat for a gander at the otherworldly.
Having been deprived of two prior summers of adventure via the live music medium, it could be said that the masses of hard rock trustees are due a trip beyond their humble abodes. For the residents of Miami, this need for a retreat from business as usual would take the form of a metaphorical excursion into the outer reaches of the imagination, spearheaded by the conceptual work of longtime progressive rockers and Sci-Fi obsessed New York outfit known as Coheed & Cambria. Yet the spectacle that would unfold at the FPL Solar Park Amphitheater was not limited to the wild storytelling of one of the 2000s’ more unique contributions to the music world, as along the ride would be a seemingly disparate couple of support acts that would brave the sweltering South Florida heat on the evening of July 12th, 2022.
Taking the stage at around 6 pm to warm up the literally simmering crowd would be online pop/rock sensation and Oklahoma native Mothica, bringing a veritable stew of differing influences to the table as a de facto appetizer. Her presentation was one of enthusiasm, despite the intense late afternoon heat rendering it necessary for her to sing while seated a few songs deep into her set. The laid-back groove of opening song "Buzzkill" off her 2021 EP "Forever Fifteen" would be among the standout moments, falling somewhere between the eccentric stylings of Amy Winehouse and a grittier emo aesthetic. Likewise, the punk-infused electronic plunge into modern dark pop territory "Nocturnal" and the dreary lovelorn rendition of 50s doo-wop classic "Sleepwalk" off her latest LP would also elicit a positive response, capping off a strong first showing for this relatively new player both in Miami and on a major tour, as she noted with an excited tone several times between songs.
With the entry of second act and de facto co-headliners Alkaline Trio to the stage, a general theme of punk/emo solidarity began to emerge in this otherwise oddly matched trio of bands. Veterans of the stage going back to the 1990s, this elder fold of emo-tinged pop-punk impresarios would bring a more stylistically uniform and up-tempo presentation to the masses in Miami reminiscent of Blink-182 with flourishes of Sunny Day Real Estate and Green Day. Led by the highly emotive and impassioned roar of guitarist and helmsman Matt Skiba, the heat-stricken crowd would become highly animated in spite the weather conditions as banger anthems such as opener "I Wanna Be A Warhol," along with older slamming favorites such as "The Poison," "Back To Hell" and the slower and heartfelt "Sadie" hung high in the air. Though the messages conveyed rested consistently in the more mundane stylings of confessional, real life storytelling, all in attendance were ripe for a trip into the unearthly.
Dusk having taken hold, the huddled throngs would reach a state of complete elation as headliners Coheed & Cambria took the reins, and the level of energy and poise that would be displayed by this more cerebral adherent of the rock genre with punk affinities was equal to the reception they received.
Like a massive starship ascending to the realms of the empyreal, the stage took on a life of its own as smoke and multicolored lights danced among the quartet of native New Yorkers; to speak nothing for the massive tentacle monster from another world that inflated around them as the show commenced, flanked by two LED screen which would project images related to the stories in each song. The movements of the band as they wheeled through a blistering set alternated between moments of pure musicianship – Claudio and guitarist Travis Stever trade lead/rhythm guitar parts back and forth was the perfect example – with outburst of peaking energy when the three men standing on stage would headbang and pounce like caged animals trying to break free, adding further intrigue, and personality to the already complex music that was being performed. Only while singing did vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez showcase even a hint of physical stillness, bellowing out lyrics behind a maze of hair that completely covers his face; with his high soaring tenor that has often won him comparisons to the likes of Geddy Lee being as on point as it has been in the studio since the early 2000s.
In essence, every moment of Coheed & Cambria's gargantuan set was a highlight, wrapped by the enthralling light-show mixing colors and atmosphere, which took the experience to spectacular heights. The decision to kick things off with the 10-minute epic slough "The Dark Sentencer" right on the heels of arriving to the recorded sounds of Iron Maiden's "Aces High" proved a risky and blatantly metallic move, but the payoff achieved with the avid onlookers before the stage was tangible. Likewise, older offerings that had not seen a live rendition in several years such as "The Running Free" and "Ghost" received a raucous response from those in attendance, as did the live debut performances of select infectious anthems from the newly released "A Window of The Waking Mind" LP such as "Beautiful Losers" and "A Disappearing Act". Nonetheless the apex of the event would be achieved during the encore with the classic fan favorite and slow metallic march "Welcome Home". When Claudio swapped his typical Gibson for his double-neck guitar, everyone in attendance knew the staple track was coming, and the roar from the crowd reached deafening levels as the band walked through the Arabic-infused note progression that set the song in motion. Not satisfied with that reaction, the band proceed to served-up the riff happy punk anthem "The Suffering," capping off the evening in an absolute blasting fashion.
It would be an understatement to suggest that this tour, which will see another performance the very next day at another Miami venue, presents one of the more unique groupings of acts to have ever been put together in recent memory. Nevertheless, the common affinity for the rustic edge of punk tied the whole thing together quite nicely, and perhaps stands as among the more compelling examples of how said genre has transcended the perceived orthodoxy that it has been saddled with since the late 70s. Coheed & Cambria remain as one of the most energetic and overall enjoyable performers in the industry at this time, exuding an infectious energy that grabs you by the neck – whether you are a life-long fan or simply accompanying a friend – and pulls you into the show until the very last note. As the summer progresses and this tour leaves the confines of the American Southeast, the temperatures may cool accordingly, but it's a surefire bet that the presentation brought by these bands will continue to heat things up.