When you’re into a fandom, there are often things that you can point to and say, “That! That’s the thing that best explains this thing.” I experienced one of those moments on Thursday night as I stood sweaty and beaten from a mosh pit at Coheed & Cambria’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3 Neverender concert.
Things had slowed down, the lights had gone down and come back up and Claudio came out and said, “Mr. Light Bright, can I get the numbers please?” And the lit screens behind him lit up with the number “2113” and he started playing “21:13.”
Of course, we all went nuts! Crazy, all over the place nuts.
So this week, I’m exploring my “gateways,” the things that before I identified as a full on fangirl and nerd got me thinking, “there’s something to this,” things that lead me down paths and rabbit holes that have gotten me to where I am now.
I started listening to Coheed & Cambria when I was 15. I’ve never looked like the kind of person that would be into their music and often got very defensive. Showing up at an emo and punk show in a polo dress always kind of got me some weird looks. And I certainly didn’t do it on purpose to be an asshole. I mean, what kind of a teenager would do that?
But the first comic book I ever read was Amory Wars #1, my friend Aley had bought it and we were both reading it. It sparked something in me. It was so weird and cool and interesting. I should note that I didn’t keep reading though. I can’t even begin to explain how insecure I was about my nerdy stuff in high school. I was terrified that someone would find out and I don’t know what I thought would happen, exactly.
This was years before Batman Begins and my friends were only interested in X-Men in so far as one of our Broadway Idols Hugh Jackman was involved.
But Coheed was different. Before The Amory Wars came out, all any of us could do was guess what the hell the story of this album was, based on the songs themselves. And while the music is great context for the story, it doesn’t exactly fill you in on what’s actually going on.
We totally got that there was child murder going on though. That was always pretty obvious.
But it wasn’t until I started going to live shows my senior year of high school that I started to understand how fandom works. See, theatre fandom is a weird little niche. It has some internet and real world cross over, but for the most part you share it just with your friends that you do theater with. But waiting on line to go to a Coheed show you talk about which shows you’ve seen, favorite songs, what you think is next for the story.
Coheed is special to me for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it was one of my first fandoms and because it continues to be a really meaningful bond with my siblings and Joe. And I always have fun at these shows, which is why I keep going.
So how does this link the moment I described before?
Aside from the fact that Coheed fans are some of the most awesome people in the entire world, it’s a really, really, fun positive group of people who’ve all grown up together. We were teenagers when this music started, and now we’re in our twenties. We all remember when the “A Favor House Atlantic” video was actually on MTV2 on a regular basis. But I had a moment on Thursday, where I looked around and thought, “Who are all these grown ups at the Coheed show?” Then I realized, we’re the grown ups at the Coheed show. We’re not drinking warm plastic bottle vodka in the bathroom anymore, we’re ordering beers in the back. We’re still moshing and crowd surfing. (Not me personally, I mosh a little, but I’d have a nervous breakdown if I tried to crowd surf.) And a lot fewer people are being thrown out.
But these fans aren’t just awesome, they feed in a big way off of Claudio’s silliness and positivity. The music itself is pretty angry and violent, but Claudio radiates joy and light from his side of things and the crowd absorbs it.
And that’s a pretty cool thing.