It has now officially been over a week since the wonderful madness that was Denverender and the close of Coheed and Cambria’s The Color Before The Sun tour. It’s been a long and wild ride and it’s taken some time to process. While Denverender was simply the final show of the tour, it almost seems necessary to consider them two separate entities. Denverender wasn’t just a show. It was so much more than that. It was an event that drew people from all across the country (myself included), and that’s due largely in part to a man named Captain Keywork.
Captain Keywork is actually Dan Britton. Dan is a self-proclaimed Coheed and Cambria enthusiast. Before The Color Before the Sun tour, he had been to 33 Coheed shows. I can even attest, if you go to enough shows, sometimes the band starts to notice you. This was what happened in Dan’s case. He’s hard not to notice in his elaborate costumes and the way he literally runs the pit. I didn’t even know there was a such thing as running a pit until I met Dan.
On December 4, 2015, in Norfolk, VA, Claudio Sanchez pointed Dan out to the crowd and gave him the title of Captain Keywork.
For this tour, he went all out, taking himself to social media and gathering up a crew along the way to hit every single show on the 25 city tour. Not only was Denver the last show on the tour, but it was also the show he was celebrating his birthday at, so it was important to him to have the people he met along the way join him at the end of his journey to celebrate and make it the greatest show ever. I think we can all agree that he succeeded.
I don’t intend to talk much about Denverender specifically here, but backstory on the Captain is pretty necessary when talking about this tour. He helped so many people along the way, whether it was helping people find rides to shows, or giving them tickets, or even just helping them to feel welcomed into the community. (I personally received all three thanks to Dan and his crew.)
My story is quite different from Dan’s. I was never planning on doing this as a tour. He asked me in Denver how many shows I was originally planning on going to and I told him just Boston. I added five more before the tour was over to make it a total of seven. I went from being a casual Coheed fan the first night of the tour in Boston to a hardcore Child of the Fence by the time the final show in Denver rolled around. I’m even planning on getting a matching Coheed tattoo with the Captain’s Crew at this point. That’s how amazing this tour was.
People who met me on this tour were probably surprised to hear me say that Coheed and Cambria is not my all-time favorite band. My friend Felicia who I met in Florida even commented on the fact that I’m cute at Coheed shows because I sing so passionately. Honestly it was just really hard not to fall completely in love with them after seeing their phenomenal live performance and being surrounded by so many people in the pit who were diehard, passionate Children of the Fence.
Coheed brought along three opening bands for this tour: Silver Snakes, I the Mighty, and Glassjaw. I had never heard of Glassjaw, but I knew Silver Snakes was opening for I the Mighty on their short run before this tour, and I absolutely adore I the Mighty, both as musicians and people. (If you haven’t listened to them yet, I highly encourage you to check out Satori or Connector.)
I really enjoyed watching Silver Snakes every show. I met their drummer Garrett Harney the first night of the tour, and he’s a really nice guy. I think that probably helped my actually wanting to get into their music. Sometimes it can be tough seeing an opener that you’re not familiar with, but after watching them kill it for seven shows, I would definitely go see them play again. (I also recommend you pick up their new album Saboteur.)
Of course I the Mighty are my boys. I’ve seen them live 13 times now (seven of which were on this tour). And I was so happy to see them blow the entire crowd away at every show. They had people crowdsurfing and moshing, and there were so many people coming up to the band at the end of each show telling them they had just become fans. It was fantastic.
The first night of tour I was a bit confused when they started their set. I’m familiar with all of their music, even some that’s never officially been released, but this didn’t sound familiar at all.
It was a new live intro to their song “Lady of Death,” and it led in perfectly (there’s a better video of it in NYC). I love it. And I think a good number of dudes in the crowd fell in love with frontman Brent Walsh (and that’s putting it mildly) because of it.
And then there was Glassjaw. I knew night 1 that Glassjaw is not my type of music. Their stage presence didn’t do much for me and the mosh pits forming on either side of me were terrifying and not inviting. They’re legends and actually inspired Coheed and Cambria, but I just couldn’t get into them. And then I found out that many Coheed fans felt the same way. It wasn’t until I met “Glassjaw Adam” in New York that I really found a reason to enjoy their set. To me (and many others in the crowd) watching him watch Glassjaw was more entertaining than actually watching Glassjaw.
And before I describe each show on my adventure, I guess I should talk about Coheed’s set a bit. That’s important, right? I went to seven shows on this tour, and I don’t think they played the exact same set at any of them. They had a few songs on rotation that only got played at certain shows: “Devil in Jersey City,” “Everything Evil,” “Atlas,” “Eraser,” “Here We Are Juggernaut,” “The Running Free,” and “The Crowing.” There may have been others, but that’s what I remember. And I luckily got to see all of them.
BOSTON NIGHT 1: My first ever Coheed show
I went into this show as a casual fan of Coheed and Cambria (however familiar enough with their whole discography), but a big I the Mighty fan. I don’t think I was really prepared for what was about to go down.
I generally like to be in the front for shows, so I was a few rows back during I the Mighty. Naturally, they killed it as they always do. Then Glassjaw came on, and that terrifying moment where pits formed on either side of me happened, and I couldn’t take it. I left the crowd.
That ended up not being too bad a call as I was able to go eat some sub-par venue pizza and down a beer before Coheed came on. I also chatted it up with some diehard Children of the Fence who honestly intimidated me a bit. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but I somehow found myself talking to a dude who plays in a Coheed and Cambria cover band, and he was shocked and appalled that I haven’t read any of the Amory Wars comics. (Mind you I haven’t even read the Fight Club 2 comics yet, and Fight Club is one of my favorite things on earth.) This was the point when I decided I was in trouble. Apparently there’s no such thing as a casual Coheed fan. Whoops.
Then the lights dimmed and it was time to get back on the floor. I started somewhat near the back. Frontman Claudio Sanchez and guitarist Travis Stever came out and played “Ghost” to a quiet crowd. It was honestly quite beautiful. They walked offstage when the song was over.
Then the band returned and played what was at this point (and definitely still is up there) my favorite Coheed song, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3.” The crowd was insane, all screaming “Man your own jackhammer!” together at the top of our lungs.
The thing that stuck out to me the most during this show (besides the fact that Claudio looks a bit like Cousin It onstage with that beautiful mane of his that he hides behind) was the lights. They weren’t just playing for a crowd of fans. They were putting on a SHOW. And it was fantastic.
When I wasn’t enthralled watching the band and the light show, I was moshing and dancing and singing as much as I could. That point I started at in the back of the venue didn’t last for very long. I somehow managed to migrate to the front by way of many many mosh pits I kept dancing through. It was the most fun I had had in a while.
And then my favorite moment of the night came during “You Got Spirit Kid.” We all know how I feel about confetti. Well for once there was confetti at a show that I didn’t have anything to do with, and it was pretty much perfect.
Night 1 verdict: That was a great show. Coheed puts on a great fuckin’ show. I was really happy I decided to do both nights in Boston, because all of a sudden I was way more excited about seeing Coheed again than I the Mighty.
BOSTON NIGHT 2
This is the show I truly thank for my becoming a Child of the Fence.
I went to an I the Mighty show in New York back in November where I met two wonderful dudes who I (now) absolutely adore, Jason and Biz. I ran into Biz at coat check and then found Jason up at the rail. Jason was wearing a Coheed and Cambria jersey that he made himself and he let me wear it for a bit, despite it being huge on me. I wanted a picture in it, so I handed him my phone, and at the last second he asked if I wanted the Captain to be in it with me. I said sure. I remembered someone pointing him out to me the night before, telling me he was following the entire tour. I didn’t think much of it at the time.
During Glassjaw, I left for more venue pizza and the bathroom, and then I came back to find that Jason and Biz and the Captain and a fairly big group of their friends were standing off to the side. Also avoiding the dangerzone that is the Glassjaw pit. I joined them. Someone asked if I was part of their crew and I just kinda nodded, “Yeah. I’m with you guys.”
When did we become friends? How is it possible to fall in love with a group of people in the middle of a mosh pit? I have no idea. But that’s exactly what happened.
Something happened in the pit that night that changed things for me. I have no idea what it was. If it was the fact that people were actually looking out for each other as if they were family (protecting people tying their shoes, helping them up immediately when they fall, etc.), the kind of beauty in the way we would look each other in the eyes and sing our lungs out, the moshing that felt both chaotic and orderly at the same time, the almost waltzing that occasionally happened… I can try to put it all into words, but it’s no use.
Coheed was still putting on the same beautiful show they had the previous night, but I was too busy having a spiritual experience in the mosh pit surrounded by people that I had no idea would soon become my family. There are absolutely no words for what I felt that night.
I thought I moshed a lot night 1. But I did not leave that mosh pit for a second night 2. Except for when I crowdsurfed during “The Running Free.” I think I missed Captain Keywork’s crowdstand during “The Audience” night 1, but I was so impressed when I caught it night 2. I’d never seen anyone stand on top of the crowd before. I know it’s a thing that happens, but imagine a guy in a light up top hat on top of the crowd, almost conducting. It’s a sight.
I knew by the time the show was over that I had to go to the New York City show as well. I hadn’t had enough yet. Or more like I NEEDED MORE. I had talked to Biz about it earlier and he had more or less convinced me that I should go just because it’s Madison Square Garden. I’d never gone to a show at Madison Square Garden before. I ended up getting burgers with that group of friends at the end of the night, and then I chilled in their hotel room with them until 6am.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
I opted to take a 1am bus from Boston to NYC the night before the show for God knows why. I’m not exactly the smartest when it comes to planning things sometimes. This would put me in NYC at around 5am with exactly no sleep, minus whatever sleep I could get on the bus.
I packed a backpack with things I thought would help me survive for a little over 24 hours in the city (as that was the plan at the time), with a hotel room booked right across the street from MSG. Unfortunately I didn’t leave my apartment until 12:45, so I had to run all the way to the bus station. Streets in Boston are made of brick. I ate shit and ended up ripping the knee of the only pair of jeans I’d brought (and I still have a pretty gnarly scar to show for it). But I was so pumped at the thought of seeing Coheed again that I didn’t mind. I picked myself up and continued running until I was on that bus.
I started chatting with people online about the show. When we were getting to the venue, where we were grabbing beer beforehand, etc. The Captain was drunk in New York and had himself convinced that he wasn’t going to sleep and would hang out with me when I got into town at 5am. I told him I was planning on trying to find a place to sleep when I got there.
I went straight to my hotel when I got to town and ended up checking in extremely early so I could nap for five hours. After meeting a friend for lunch at Chick-Fil-A (I used to live on their sweet tea and waffle fries. I never miss a chance for Chick-Fil-A) I headed to the venue where I was immediately greeted by a group of guys who said “Coheed fan?” to which I responded “Yep!” Turns out they were playing a game of “Coheed or Fall Out Boy” as FOB was also playing the Garden that night.
One of these guys was Glassjaw Adam. I stuck with them for a while, mostly because I was enjoying talking to Adam, until I finally decided I wanted a beer and to find Biz and the Captain at the Coheed fan meetup. I met so many more amazing people there, it was unbelievable.
Somehow everyone at the meetup had early entry into the show. I wasn’t quite sure what the early entry was about aside from the fact that I didn’t have it, until a girl named Niki handed me her Amory card to use to get in with the rest of them. Pair that with the fact that Adam started messaging me saying people were being let in and he was holding me a spot in line up at the front, and I was golden. These people were spoiling me already and I had just met them.
There was one huge perk to getting into the show early (besides of course getting a good spot on the rail): Coheed and Cambria performed one special song that only those with early entry could see. The first probably half of the tour, Claudio came out to play a cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”
I came into this show knowing I wanted to mosh. The pit was the thing that made me fall in love with Coheed, so even with my bum knee from my crash and burn on the street in Boston the night before, I was determined to mosh. But for the first time this tour I had a good spot on the rail, right between Adam and Jason, so I decided that maybe I’d stay up front for a few songs.
An hour later the opening bands started. I the Mighty had some trouble with their sound that night, and we couldn’t tell if they knew or not. My little crew of people tried yelling to have the vocals turned up, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do. They still killed it of course, but the sound made me kinda sad.
Also, here’s the better video I have of the new “Lady of Death” intro:
Adam takes his jacket off after I the Mighty and starts warning everyone around him that Glassjaw is his band. He’s going to go nuts. I didn’t understand quite to what extent he meant until they came onstage and Jason wrapped an arm around me to keep me safe while Adam went ham. I spent their entire set smiling and laughing for the first time this tour because watching Adam was so much more entertaining than the band. At one point, frontman Daryl Palumbo came to the side of the stage we were on and did that little chin wave thing from The Little Rascals right at Adam and he did it back. It was weirdly cute and made for many more jokes.
People started talking about going to the Philly show the next night before Coheed even came on in NYC. I hadn’t intended on going to Philly, but then Adam told me there was a ticket for me if I wanted it. Jason backed him up and said he would talk to Dan, who had a bunch of extra tickets for people who needed them, and let him know that one of their group needed a ticket to Philly. Then Biz is behind me and says if I need a ride there and back, not to worry, he’s got me covered.
So I somehow added a fourth show. Spur of the moment trip to Philly for the first time.
Finally Coheed came onstage. I kept telling myself I was only going stay in the front for a few songs, but it was actually really nice getting to watch the band members and the lights and see everything I had missed while in the pit. Josh Eppard makes wonderful faces while drumming. He was my favorite to watch.
I did however keep turning around to see if anything was happening in the pit. Unfortunately there was not. This was by far the tamest show I saw on the tour, and that made it the most disappointing for me. I ended up staying on the rail the whole night, because the only thing that would have happened if I moved is that I wouldn’t have had as good a view of the stage anymore.
The best part of this show happened shortly after a fight broke out in the pit. Claudio has a tendency to get very angry when people fight at his shows (I later learned about the Vic the Butcher incident), and he was very visibly pissed there was fighting at Madison Square Garden. Until someone in the crowd started an asshole chant to lighten the mood. And drummer Josh Eppard started a beat to it. And then the rest of the band joined in.
And then one more video I got from Madison Square Garden:
And then something really cool surfaced online after this show:
Didja see me?
The morning of the Philly show I still wasn’t even sure if I had a ticket or not. I hadn’t heard from Dan or Jason about it. But Biz called me to let me know when he was picking me up and I asked him about the ticket situation. He told me if there wasn’t a ticket for me, the whole crew would pitch in to help me buy an overly priced ticket on StubHub. “You’re One Among the Fence. You should be at this show.” I felt like crying. That was the sweetest thing.
I also realized I hadn’t exactly brought enough clothes for another night out. I had one extra shirt just in case, so that was all that had changed from my previous night’s outfit.
Soon enough we were on the road to Philly, blasting Coheed’s Afterman on the way. I’d never been to Pennsylvania before, and this was such an unexpected trip. I could only hope the show was better than Madison Square Garden.
Spoiler: it was.
I still had Niki’s Amory card so I was able to get in to see “Life on Mars” again. I gave it back it her once we were inside. Of course I stayed up at the rail for I the Mighty again.
I could tell it was going to be a good show when Biz and another Dan (Wawa Dan—not Captain) kept crowdsurfing with no trouble during I the Mighty. I gave them high fives as they ran past me, and then they were immediately up in the air again. This crowd was ready for us.
The venue had couches out by merch, so I went and chilled with Captain and crew during Glassjaw. Then it was time for Coheed.
This time I was prepared. I knew what to expect in the pit, and I felt like I was actually part of this group now. (Of course I was sharing a hotel room with them this time, so it would be weird if I didn’t.) We walked back in the venue as a crew and started the pit.
As I mentioned earlier, Dan runs the pit. He’s in the middle with a flashlight opening it up. He’s ready to throw anyone up to crowdsurf at all times. He gets water to pass around when we’re all getting tired. He watches out for people.
The energy in the pit in Philly was intense. It was a bit of a rougher crowd than Boston was, but in the best way. Everyone was having a great time and it was obvious. And I felt like I knew everyone this time. I crowdsurfed during “You Got Spirit Kid” and was a little disappointed in myself for my timing. I went up just a bit too early, or else I could’ve been in the air when the confetti went off. So close. But it was a great surf, and I ran back into a great pit.
Up until Denverender (which is in a category of its own), Philly was the show to beat. This was the kind of show that I live for. High energy, smiles all around, and exhaustion by the time it’s over.
After the show, we mingled a bit with I the Mighty and Silver Snakes, and then our crew headed out for Philly cheesesteaks. When in Philly, must eat cheesesteaks. And it’s not much of a Coheed adventure until you’ve had storytime with Fen, aka the guy who cosplays as The Beast Coheed Kilgannon. His stories are the greatest things ever, and we got a few of them while we were at Jim’s Steaks.
The next morning I had to face the fact that I would be spending the next 24 hours traveling. Philly >
NYC > Boston > Florida. My spring break had officially started, and I was going to see my family who lives about a half hour outside of Tampa.
I wasn’t originally planning on heading to Orlando, but I was only an hour away. Captain hooked me up with two women in Florida I hadn’t met yet: Amanda who gave me her extra ticket no question, and Felicia who drove from Orlando all the way to my house in the middle of nowhere just to drive me back to Orlando for the show.
The show was at the Hard Rock at Universal City Walk, so naturally there was a meetup at the restaurant. I downed some french fries and a cider and met even more amazing people, like Zane, who not only had an Amory card, but also paid a little extra for a plus one. So I got early entry yet again.
Claudio wasn’t happy with his rendition of “Life on Mars” anymore, so for the rest of the tour it was Travis Stever playing a song from his side project Davenport Cabinet called “Damned Renegades.” I’d never listened to Davenport Cabinet before, but I absolutely loved the song, even more than “Life on Mars.”
I was right behind Felicia and my friend Nina (who I actually met in San Francisco back in 2014 at a Matches show) during Silver Snakes. Garrett specifically handed Felicia a drumstick at the end of their set, and she was pretty adorable about it, aside from the fact that she was afraid to bring a weapon into the pit. Felicia let me trade places with her for I the Mighty, and yet again, my boys killed it.
The two of us left to go to the bathroom during Glassjaw, but came back before their set was done. I took a video to send to Adam because it just wasn’t the same without him there rocking out on the rail. The song is “Ape Dos Mil” but for most of the tour I was calling it the “goddamn sinner song.” It’s actually not bad, it just kinda became fun giving Glassjaw (and Glassjaw fans) a hard time.
I feel like talking about the Coheed pit is going to get redundant at this point. Dan and Felicia and Amanda were all a little worried about how this show was going to pan out after an awful night in Miami the night before. Thank goodness I wasn’t there to witness it myself, but apparently no one was moving or singing or enjoying themselves at all, and it was bad enough that Coheed decided to drop a song from their three song encore (“You Got Spirit Kid” and “Welcome Home” were always part of the encore. The song in between changed from night to night).
Orlando made up for the terrible Miami show. The energy was high and everyone was having a great time. Again, I crowdsurfed, this time to “Here to Mars.” It wasn’t the best surf, but it wasn’t too bad either. I didn’t get dropped, so that’s something. There were also two thirteen-year-old boys there that didn’t know many songs besides “Welcome Home,” but they were going nuts in the pit anyway. They kept asking me questions about the set after I told them I’d been following Coheed on tour, and one of them said he would too if he had the money. I told him he’s only thirteen. He can wait ten years.
I think this was the first show I heard “The Crowing” live at, which made me really happy. I love that song, and screaming “Burn your wings!” at the top of my lungs was great. (Have I mentioned that In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 is my favorite Coheed album? And one of my favorite albums in general. Obviously I’m pretty happy hearing any song from that album live.) This was also the show Felicia told me how cute I am when I’m singing along passionately. I believe that was during “The Audience.” It’s a hard song to dance to, but it’s a powerful one.
After some post-show IHOP with the crew (where I ate only bacon and sausage and got made fun of for it), Zane drove me to the beach in Clearwater where I stayed about half an hour from Jannus Live, the next night’s venue. As far as I knew I only had one show left to go hard at.
I got to the venue fairly early with Zane and another guy called Bunny Slippers (because he actually wore bunny slippers in the pit in Orlando). As we walked there we passed a Starbucks and Zane joked that Chondra (Claudio’s wife) was probably there. He wasn’t too far off. She was standing right in front of the venue, as was Claudio and his adorable son Atlas. No one in line was disturbing him, so I decided against saying hi, despite how much I wanted to. We got a few creepy pictures though.
The day of the St. Pete show was Claudio’s birthday, and me being me, I wanted to make him a sign to hold up during the show. I debated running to Walgreens to look for poster board, but then at the last minute I found out that Zane could once again get me into the venue early, so I saw Travis play Davenport Cabinet again instead.
Josh Eppard walked around the venue selling CDs for his rap side project Weerd Science before the opening bands went on. I was able to snap a picture with him and he was super friendly.
Amazingly enough, Zane found an old poster in the men’s bathroom that he brought out for me to write “Happy B-Day Claudio” on. Everything was working out perfectly.
I left the sign at Silver Snake’s merch table until it was time for Coheed (thanks again Silver Snakes). I had decided that I wanted to go all out because this was more than likely my last show of the tour, so I didn’t want to hold a sign for three bands. I especially wanted to mosh and crowdsurf during I the Mighty, as I generally stand in the front. I had to switch it up a bit.
When I mentioned wanting to go up during I the Mighty, a wonderful man named Brandon suggested that I stand on his shoulders. Brandon is a very tall man. He was determined that I wouldn’t fall, but I said I’d sit on his shoulders instead. I successfully sat through most of “The Lying Eyes of Miss Erray” despite a security guard being displeased. Neither of us noticed him for quite some time. But eventually he did and set me back down.
I also crowdsurfed during their set and moshed to the point of exhaustion. Coheed hadn’t even come on yet. I had to take a breather during Glassjaw. But that’s nothing new.
I might have been five beers deep by the time Coheed came on. Is that important? Probably not, but I think it might’ve added to my general level of happiness. I feel like my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much and I didn’t notice any injuries I might have gotten in the pit. (Which I think I did. I’m just now able to fully extend my elbow again since this show and it still doesn’t feel 100%.)
During “Ghost,” Captain picked me up and put me on his shoulder so I could hold up the “Happy B-Day Claudio” sign. If the security guards had a problem with it, Captain either didn’t notice or didn’t care because this happened a few more times throughout the night as well. Unfortunately Claudio never vocally acknowledged me. Oh well. I hope he saw it. (Oh yeah, did I mention Brent Walsh sang him Happy Birthday during their set?)
I crowdsurfed more during this show than I did at any other show, and this was probably the tightest pit I had been in. It wasn’t even really possible to open the pit up for once. It was just people moshing in extremely close quarters and me trying not to die, but still insanely happy about the entire thing.
I thought this was my last show of the tour, and I knew it was the perfect way to go out. Meeting Josh, sitting on people’s shoulders, wishing Claudio a happy birthday, crowdsurfing an insane amount… It was amazing. I also managed to snag a few bites of birthday cake after the show was over. What could top that?
But then the Captain convinced a drunk Lindsay to come out to Denver. I normally say I’m not responsible for anything drunk Lindsay does, but she made up her mind and I stuck with. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After doing two shows a week for three weeks, it became like a drug. Apparently Coheed show withdrawal is a real thing. Just like after that night in Boston, I knew I needed more. This tour couldn’t be over for me yet.
Stay tuned for tales of Denverender. It was just too amazing a trip to lump into the rest of the tour.