Because it’s impossible to pick just one. In no particular order:
1. My first Coheed show in October of 2005. I was fourteen years old. Coheed had already been my favorite band for two years, but due to my age and the locations of shows I had not managed to make a real show. I could not have asked for a better first Coheed. Claudio opened with Always and Never solo and they swung right into Welcome Home (which at that time was new). I sung myself hoarse alone in the crowd, and I was the only person with a tour shirt at school the next day. I felt untouchable.
2. Warped 2007, my third Coheed show. The set was short, but it was a perfect day and the band was also premiering “The Running Free” to promote for release. I met a ton of amazing fans and also met Claudio for the first time. I don’t remember what I said (and in retrospect, when I see him now I don’t even consider it “meeting”, just “seeing again”). I will always associate “The Running Free” with happiness and contentment because of this day.
3. August 2009 with Heaven & Hell. It was my first trip to see Coheed, and on this trip I met a girl who I now call my sister. The day of the show was wrought with severe thunderstorms, harsh wind, torrential rain, lightning, thunder, and tornado warnings. On trust that Claudio fucking Sanchez and Ronnie fucking James Dio wouldn’t ask that an OUTDOOR show be canceled just because of some storms, we drove into downtown Chicago. The rain didn’t let up. We were soaked, cold, sniffly, and ready to fucking ROCK. And as Coheed’s techs set up the stage… the rain ceased and a perfect rainbow spread across the sky above the pavilion. The crowd cheered and the Coheed fans smiled. The set was tremendous, although too few members of the crowd were Coheed fans. There were mostly men in their 50’s and 60’s accompanied by sons and grandsons, all sporting vintage Black Sabbath tees. (After Coheed’s set I heard a lot of discourse along the lines of, “Boy, I sure am glad these young people still know how to make rock music.”) As the sun went down, Heaven & Hell came on. Holy hell, Ronnie James Dio, the guy was tiny and old and could ROCK like a motherfucker. A minute into the first song I was throwing the horns along with everyone else. I look to my left a few songs later and there’s Claudio and Travis, throwing the horns and looking like two kids at rock ‘n roll Christmas.
4. March 23, 2010 - Rochester, NY. This was the first date on the YOBR pre-release tour. We were the first people to hear such lovely tunes as The Broken, Here We Are Juggernaut, Far, and World of Lines live. That tour also had my dream setlist: Time Consumer, Junesong, 2113, The Light and the Glass… all these deep cuts and more. The hell and hilarity that occurred afterwards was dwarfed by the enormity of this show.
5. March 26 - Burlington, VT. The trip that culminated in this show was not a trip. It was a quest. We were presented with every obstacle possible. We took trains, planes, buses, and a ride over the mountains from a lovely lady who is now a close friend. We did it out of love and loyalty, and it paid off. No show could have been better than this one at that time. Claudio’s acoustic version of Far had come to symbolize so much to me, and that trip was when it became a team slogan of sorts. We were the ones who give it our time, heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, life, and love. No matter the distance. No matter how far. He sang this song with a depth of true feeling and vocal precision that was beyond album quality. And when Claudio ended the song, he never sang the last word. It ended, “No matter the distance… no matter how….” The song wasn’t finished; therefore, the quest wasn’t finished. (As will be evidenced.)
6. May 15, 2010 - Detroit, MI. There are two stories involved with this show. This was the end of a three-show follow for me. I had attended the show in Minneapolis two nights before, slept two hours and then boarded a plane to Chicago, where I was reunited with my “quest buddy” Dia and picked up by my dear sister Erika. We retrieved another sister, Nessa, from the airport a few hours later and then attended the Chicago show. Then we went back to Erika’s and by the time the adrenaline wore off, it was 2AM. We had heard about the free acoustic set in Detroit the next day, so we decided to get up at 4AM to make it there in time to secure a place in line. (Six hour drive, mind you.) My alarm didn’t go off. I woke up on my own in a panic, kicked my dear sisters in their heads and got everyone in the car by the ass crack of dawn. We took Dia to the airport then hauled ASS across Indiana and Michigan. We got into the area at 10am and we couldn’t find the place. There was construction everywhere and traffic was awful. Then I saw two Coheed fans! I jumped out of the car in the middle of an intersection and yelled “I got this! I got this!” to my sisters in the car, who looked stricken. I ran to the venue on foot and screeched to a halt at the end of a sizable line. When Erika and Nessa walked up half an hour later, there were already a hundred more people behind me. We three were at the ass end of the line they let in. The acoustic set was beautiful and triumphant, and I still have the wristband. At the show later that night, the three of us were on the verge of utter fatigue. Erika kept reeling and I felt like vomiting. And when Coheed came on…. none of that mattered. We gave 110%. We gave all we could, and more. And that is one of the most amazing feelings in the world, knowing that this thing we give so much of ourselves to is something so much more than one could imagine.
7. August 26, 2010 - Cleveland, OH. I saw this show with two people that picked us up in Syracuse, NY on the “epic trip”. Bryan is a person that I feel lucky every day just to know. Bryan made our entire group some custom shirts that read “Heedtrippers 2010” on the front and our names and home cities on the back. Erika was there once again, and I met Matt, Amy, and Andy from Cobalt before the set. The venue was a huge outdoor pavilion with its back to the river and skyline, and the night was beautiful.
8. October 10, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI. I reunited with Erika AGAIN — I can’t imagine Heedtripping without this girl involved. This was the first show on another three-show follow, and I was geared up for some Coheed (when one sees many shows, one goes into withdrawal that much faster). Erika, my friend Jessie, and I waited in line for the standard four-ish hours and talked with fans. The show was absolutely incredible and definitely scratched that deep Coheed itch. Also, I met a fan named Savannah. Savannah is a true hero of the ‘Heed — she’s in a wheelchair, and she was rocking the RAIL, and rocking it harder than most kids down the line. Afterwards we all got to “meet”/say hello/bro-hug/picture with Claudio. Jessie, Erika, and Savannah were about to leak happiness, and I was feeling pretty damn good myself. ;)
9. October 11, 2010 - Omaha, NE. I’m a photojournalist, and I shot the set. I have never shot for Coheed before, and to say the least it was an experience not soon forgotten. Before the set, the boss guard had me climb up on a stage riser and get the crowd cheering so I could get a good shot. If you’d asked me five years ago to list some things that I’m pretty sure I would have done by now… that would have never been on it. I never would have thought. Shooting the set was intense, exciting, and tremendously fun as I was crouching in front of the rail, snapping my shutter while screaming “MAN YOUR OWN JACKHAMMER!” People say you can’t have all the fun — they’re full of shit. I had all the fun. And after shooting time was over, I went back into the crowd with my homies Megan and Bob and enjoyed the show EXTRA hard as a result of nervous adrenaline (and the caffeine pill Megan had fed me, washed down with a caffeinated beverage).
In summation, I love my life and the things that have led me to this point. Thank you, Coheed and Cambria. The Year of the Black Rainbow may be coming to a close, but adventure calls stronger than ever and my loyalty is fierce.