Braving the 90-degree Texas heat, the Unheavenly Skye tour made its final stop in Irving, TX at the mostly covered Toyota Music Pavilion. The tour featuring Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, and Every Time I Die weaved its way through the US with 26 stops.
While Coheed and Cambria have the headlining spot, a big draw for this tour was the announcement of Mastodon playing their fan favorite album, 2009’s Crack The Skye from start to finish. With a full tour wrapping up, there was no doubt that the prog metal rockers would deliver a spotless performance of the album.
Taking the stage with sunlight right in their eyes, Mastodon quickly kicked off into the Crack The Skye opening track, ‘Oblivion’. Rotating lead vocals nearly every verse and song, guitarist Brent Hinds, bassist Troy Sanders and drummer Brann Dailor stepped up to the mic (or in Dailor’s case, leaned forward) to take over vocal duties. Guitarist Bill Kelliher also chipped in with backing vocals. It was very impressive to see a drummer that makes full use of his kit while handling lead vocals effortlessly. Dailor has one of the most colorful drum kits surrounded by various clown heads (look up his clown room!).
Aside from a few short synth interludes between songs, the band knocked out the entire Crack The Skye album while staying true to the heavy and technical nature of the studio recording. The musical journeys of ‘The Czar‘ (10+ minutes) and ‘The Last Baron’ (nearly 15 minutes) provided the musical highlights of both the set and the entire evening. Having both Hinds and Kelliher’s guitars high in the room mix made for an intense, in your face sound with Dailor’s heavy and aggressive drumming complimenting it beautifully.
Continuing on past Crack The Skye, Mastodon kept their set going with four additional tracks. This part of the set has changed nightly on the tour with selections from their entire catalog. Finishing off the night was ‘Steambreather’ from the bands most recent release, 2017’s Emperor of Sand.
Awaiting Coheed and Cambria’s entrance, the sun had set and a large sheet covered the view of the stage. The band entered the stage and kicked off into ‘Prologue’ before the sheet dropped during the transition into ‘The Dark Sentencer’. As you can expect, this resulted in a large eruption of cheers and screams from the anxious crowd. I could not think of a better way to kick off a performance than this!
Unlike Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria focused on their most recent release instead of an older release. 2018’s The Unheavenly Creature was at the forefront of this tour. Although the entire album was not played, we did get over half of the tracks at this performance including the opening section of the album to start the show.
Guitarist and vocalist Claudio Sanchez, with his glorious head full of hair was clearly the center of attention all evening. Hair flips, headbanging, running and jumping all over the stage for most of the evening caught the eye of everyone in attendance. You had to pay close attention to get a glimpse of his face through all the hair!
Sitting his guitar aside for The Unheavenly Creature albums title track, Sanchez made full use of the stage, swinging the long mic cable around and bundling it up over and over. “Run Run Run” and “Swinging From Your Cable” seemed to be more than just lyrics for Sanchez for this performance.
“Rocking out with his tongue out” as overheard in the crowd, drummer Josh Eppard provided some quality entertainment with his facial expressions all evening. Guitarist Travis Stever and bassist Zach Cooper rounded out the band while staying mostly situated on their sides of the stage.
Mixing in tracks from previous albums kept the crowd involved, especially the mid-set favorite ‘A Favor House Atlantic’ off of 2003’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 which was well received by the attendees. As in typical Coheed and Cambria tradition, the set wrapped up with their most played song ‘Welcome Home’.
Visually, Coheed and Cambria’s set was stunning. With the sun gone and the haze up, their lighting crew went to work to provide a very visually pleasing performance that complimented the music perfectly. The stage production featured 5 tall video panels separated by a column of lighting. Each band took advantage of this setup. Mastodon featured some trippy and colorful animations during their set.
In conclusion, this was a perfectly matched tour of two of the more established progressive rock/metal bands in the scene. Mastodon provided the in your face heavy punch while Coheed and Cambria provided the energetic and visually focused show. It’s also worth noting for a tour closer that each set didn’t feel unmotivated or rushed, especially with each band having a break after the show. Both Mastodon and Coheed and Cambria took time to thank each other and the crowds for the successful Unheavenly Skye Tour. Sanchez also noted that this was one of his favorite tours he has ever done.
**Unfortunately I was not able to get in to the venue in time for Every Time I Die’s opening set**