Kind of a Neverender Story
On May 2nd I attended my 10th Coheed and Cambria show and every day that followed for a month or so since then was a storm of emotions and fuzzy feelings. Every time I try to write this down I get annoyed at my own self and trash it so please bear with me.
5 years ago, February 2012, I got an email about Coheed going on tour like the dozens of emails that came before it since I discovered them only this time, almost 10 years into being a fan I finally decided it was time to go.
“I need to do this, babe, just once. I need to get it out of my system, I’ll never ask again. Just once.”
That’s what I said to my husband before buying our tickets. I’ve been living this lie for over five years now, and there’s no signs of stopping because every moment since then has been like living in a surrealistic bubble of “how did I get from there to here?” Plus I’ve won him completely over to the Coheed side, he doesn’t even try to fight it anymore.
We went and I got my first taste of what it was truly like to be a Child of the Fence. There were people in line with guitars singing Coheed songs, no one was rude, it was like everyone knew everyone else and in a way they did because I learned that every Coheed fan has a home in other Coheed fans. I ran in terror every time a band member was coming or going from the bus, amazed that they were so approachable as other fans said hi or got autographs. My brother in law had a good laugh at my expense when he said, “isn’t the lead singer the one with the big hair? He’s right there,” while I stood frozen in place and I’m sure all the color drained from my face. I literally could not force myself to move.
The show was absolutely everything I’d dreamed about and so much more. I found myself square in the danger zone of the pit, the crowd was insanely rough, but my eyes did not waiver from that stage. I planted my feet and turned all my focus into not getting sucked backward so I wouldn’t miss a single thing. Every memory of coming to love this band, every part of my past life and the people I shared it with, every painful experience in my life that their music carried me through flooded my mind and hit me in my soul. Watching these guys perform with such zest and energy, as if it would be their last show ever breathed life into me, and when Claudio sang Mother Superior, my favorite song at the time, I wept openly and unabashedly while my husband held me tight. (Ok he was actually holding me up because I was not prepared for how physically exhausted I would be)
After the show tons of people were gathered on the corner by the tour bus and I talked my husband into letting us stay despite the 3 hour drive home ahead of us. I met so many COTF that I still know and attend shows with today, people I consider “staples” because I always expect to see them in my corner of the southern US and they’re always there. The crowd thinned and suddenly Josh pops out of the building and yells, “WHERE IS DOUGIEFRIZZLE?” o.O This Dougie character skips up, vinyl sleeve in hand (an OG IKS pressing), gets it signed by Josh, gives him a huge hug, explains that he’s been waiting forever for Josh to rejoin the band because he was missing only his signature. As it turned out, Doug had tweeted to him that he needed him to sign and Josh being the amazing human he is came out to make it happen. Josh hung out for a bit, talking to everyone, signing things and posing for pictures, even gave one guy a beer from the bus because he said that’s all he wanted. I was still terrified and I’m pretty sure I didn’t speak. Some time around 2 am, what was once a crowd of us had thinned to about 25 of us; venue security had gone home no doubt believing that we are all insane, and my brother in law had long since retreated to the car to sleep. Coheed’s tour manager, Pete, came off the bus and in a very no-nonsense manner gave us the news we’d been waiting for, that the band was going to come out for a meet and greet. At 2 am. In downtown Birmingham. WHAT!! “Have your cameras out, I will take your pictures, if you want something signed have it ready. Any shenanigans and we’re getting back on the bus.” I didn’t have any words for them, except that Zach didn’t come out so I requested that. He came and said “I didn’t think anyone would want me to,” so humble and sweet that man is. I left after getting my pictures and my ticket signed (by all but Josh) and when we passed back by I yelled “I love you Claudio” out the car window and I still cringe when I think of that, hahaha!
I didn’t sleep that night, how do you just go to sleep when you can feel your life slowly pulling into focus? I love my husband and my children, but I’m a stay at home mom and it can really be the pits sometimes despite the fact that I know I’m extremely lucky to be able to be home with them. At this particular time in my life things were out of whack for me, not as badly as they would come to be, but enough that my own worth already felt unimportant and lost in the repetitiveness of my boring existence.
I revitalized a twitter account I had created a few years before and never tweeted from and went on a follow frenzy. I filled the void left by being stuck at home all the time with Coheed fans. I finally had a place to let me be myself, not wife or mommy, just Cyndi. Not only that, but I found hundreds of people just like me: totally invested in Coheed and Cambria, excited about it all the time, where the conversation never ended. People from all over the world, different ages, and from every walk of life you could imagine. What I found was my second home. Thus Cyndifferous was born and I’m onto the meat of my story.
In the Coheed community, 10 shows is a drop in the bucket for a lot more fans than you would think, so while I’m personally celebrating that accomplishment, what I came here to talk about isn’t that at all. I want to talk about the fans, my friends, my people.
I threw myself into the community, dubbing twitter my own personal Heedfeed. I’m always excited about Coheed and when other people are excited too it bleeds back into me and doubles it. I’m pretty sure that I have organs and a nervous system that keep me living, but I’m also pretty sure that without Coheed & the COTF it would all cease to function. I’m a people person and the COTF community welcomed me with open arms. I started using keyword searches to find new friends, and also to share excellent content that may have otherwise been missed. What’s great about our community is that even when the band is taking time off, or there’s a lull while waiting for movement, there’s still ample things to talk about and no shortage of people to talk to.
Over the last 5 years in all my personal ups and downs, no matter the distance, I always had my cotf friends for support. When I’m bored, they’re there. When I’m sad, they’re there. When I’m ecstatic or miserable or anywhere in between. We even get excited about each other’s upcoming shows, merch scores, and personal victories. There is no room for jealousy in Heaven’s Fence. No room for egos and competition, because we’re all so busy looking out for one another and having each other’s backs. As true and steady as the keywork that holds Heaven’s Fence in place. I’ve never not felt like the COTF community is my place in the world, my little niche, a safe space for everyone who shares the love for this band that gave us so much just by existing.
I mentioned earlier that I’ve been in a whirlwind of emotions since the show and it’s time to clarify. Since the moment I came on board this community I have never felt unwelcome, not even when I would rack up 1,000 tweets in a day or live tweet lyrics to two or three albums in a night. Not even when I parted ways with one project after another, some with an uproar, others a silent exit. Not even when I was constantly asking questions because, let’s face it, there’s a lot to know about Coheed, it’s counterparts, and it’s members. People like Neesh who have been around the community seemingly since the beginning of time and who are still enthusiastic and completely on board with welcoming a new person and bestowing upon them what feels like all of their knowledge, but is probably just beginning to scratch the surface. I remember laaaaaaate nights in the RadioXenu chat room with Neesh learning little nuggets of band history, staying up literally all night the night she showed me The Mours and some SUPER old demos from Shabutie & Weerd Science. (Neesh’s YouTube channel is a gold mine just by the way) After all this time she is still active and vocal in the community, and still just so damn nice to EVERYONE, that’s impressive especially considering how many people I’ve seen wax and wane or come and go. My point is, Neesh inspired me to always be that person, to always be open and welcoming and a home for COTF, most especially the new ones just hopping on board our particular brand of crazy train, trying to find their place in our vast community. The least I can do after all of the unexpected kindness that has been shown to me over the years is continue to pass that on…forever.
Seeing Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness live in all of its glory was an experience I could relive every moment for the rest of my life and die happy. In fact, I hope when I’m about to embark on my next life and my life memories replay that this night is featured. Literally everything about the day was perfect, the weather, the friends, the food. And as the night began it took a huge leap into epic, beginning with witnessing one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed at a show. (I’m looking at you, Yui. And also at you Ern, you amazing human, you.) I’m sparing details because I came here to talk about what happened post-show, I think I’ve told enough show stories for now, ha!
For me, approximately 60% of a Coheed show is meeting people. Internet friends, old friends, new friends, there’s no such thing as strangers. This particular show was a “homecoming” of sorts for me because Atlanta is usually where I see my Coheed shows and the previous two tours I skipped Atlanta in search of new places and faces. I got to see people I have missed so dearly since IKS Neverender, including Tim, the very first COTF to ever show me the kind nature of our community at my first show, and also the first I’d heard of people who travel around the country just to see these guys perform their miracle of musicianship. There are not many things in life that parallel the joy of recognizing someone and saying “I KNOW YOUR FACE,” even when you’ve only ever seen it in a tiny profile box online.
And so begins a series of happenings that have filled my heart to the bursting point.
My bestest friends & I, Jim and James AKA The Awkward Team, met up for this because we are separated by so much distance (Mississippi, Iowa, Florida) that we try our hardest to come together for shows at least. We arrived in Atlanta the day before the show and it wasn’t long before our friend Ian reached out to see what we were up to that night. Turns out he was just handed a shitty life card and needed some company! We all met up at Buckhead Pizza Co, my very first day-before-the-show hang, usually I’m a lump in my hotel room the day before haha! We had so much fun hanging out in that pizza place, and being there for Ian to take the burn out of a real bummer of a situation was awesome. Even Nina Uber’d over to hang out with us! Our pizza hangs turned into parking garage hangs and we all laughed so much our faces hurt. In short, thank you for messaging me Ian, you made our night probably 10x more fun and it was great to finally get the time to hang out with you!
The show was….I can’t even find the adjective to accurately convey that particular evening. The energy was high in the crowd as it always is in Atlanta, but this one was unlike any other. We had full-venue waves going on, it took us a few tries to get the whole floor and balcony involved but when it finally came together it was unforgettably amazing. I thought I would regret choosing to be in the all-seated balcony for this show, but as it turned out the entire balcony was on their feet for the whole show. Give Coheed fans at least one square foot of space to move and dance in and we will do it. And we did. I’ve been to a couple of shows with a very laid back crowd, this was the exact opposite and that energy conveyed to the band on stage as they powered through one of the most difficult albums in their discography. They moved and grooved right along with us, with the biggest smiles I think I’ve ever seen them play a show with. And when Final Cut came up, Claudio disappeared from the stage and reappeared ten feet to my left in the balcony shredding a solo and letting a fan play his guitar. Those moments, when the band is floating on the energy of the crowd, when every note they play slams more energy around, when you can tell they’re happy to be where they are and loving what they do are next-level. If we could bottle up the energy from a show like that we could live forever on it. I may never experience another show quite like that one, but if not I won’t be at a loss because it was immortalized on Coheed TV and I revisit it often. https://youtu.be/aLkoNo5f-r4
After the show I always hang around outside, its prime time to talk about the show, meet up with people you missed beforehand, and sometimes even catch an impromptu meet and greet. I was sitting down in the parking lot because even though I had a balcony seat I was on my feet dancing, jumping and moving around during the entire set. It wasn’t long after the show that a gentleman approached me and introduced himself as someone from twitter and thanked me for….being me? I’m trying to stay clear of personal vanity, but he thanked me for being kind and and friendly online, told me I was the first COTF he followed, and it was truly awesome to meet him. He flew all the way from Kansas to come to the Atlanta show! I live and breathe for moments like that, when internet and real life collides unexpectedly and someone expresses their gratitude for me. I can dish out compliments all day long, but taking them is hard for me because I’m just a potato of a person who loves Coheed. What I do is not a special skill or talent, I just love to talk and I happen to have a ton of free time to do that with. So thank you, carnacolypse! I catch a fair amount of grief sometimes from my family for the amount of time I spend online, and those moments where someone tosses me appreciation for that, even though I’m just doing what I do, makes the sting of that grief go away. I’m just a girl in Mississippi, I’ve said it all along and I’ll continue to say it forever. I am not special in any way, but my friends sure do make me feel that way.
Not overshadowing all of the other COTF I got to meet for the first time that day, including Alison who came all the way from Canada and started her epic multi-date heedtrip at the Atlanta show!
Coming home after a heedtrip is hard. Post-Coheed depression is a very real thing for a lot of fans.
I love my kids, and I miss them like crazy when I’m away, but I see them every day of the year, my cotf friends get 2, 3 or 4 if I’m SUPER lucky and coheed busts out a secondary market tour. Sometimes it’s not so bad, but this time I was missing my awkward team and sad that the Neverender I felt like I’d waited a lifetime was now officially behind me. A tough pill to swallow. I stayed horizontal pretty much all of Thursday. As always though I fell back into the swing my boring existence, empowered by the task of staying positive and continuing to share and discuss the events of Coheed’s continuing tour. A new Tales From The Grail Arbor video drops every so often and this sounds silly, but it hypes me right back up again. Dirty Ern has a way with photos and videos, capturing moments that flood you with memories of your own adventures while enjoying clips of someone else’s. I’ve teared up with joy during almost all of the 16 episodes that have come out so far.
PLUG- if you haven’t subscribed to Coheed’s YouTube do that right now, CoheedTV is everything you love about Coheed DVDs but free and is also a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look into what tour life is like. There are still more episodes on the way.
The reality is though, that the joy of being a COTF never really stops coming, even when the post-show sadness tries to sink into my soul. This community is everlasting. The connection is always there, no matter the distance. There’s always something happening, someone talking, lives being lived under the precious veil of COTF life. (It’s not just a band after all, it’s a lifestyle) So while the post-Coheed funk comes hard and fast and devastating, it lifts quickly enough and you propel forward into the next big thing. For me, watching the next wave of excitement when the U.K. leg of the tour started was pretty epic. Following their heedtrips as they come together from so many different countries is amazing. But currently, that’s excitement that Coheed is returning to the Amory Wars storyline with their next album (YAY!), the knowledge that Josh is hard at work on a couple of different and very exciting musical endeavors (one of which I was lucky enough to hear a sample of and you people should be over the moon excited for it), and of course the upcoming Chonny and Clyde project. Not to mention, we’re still not quite halfway through the release of the long awaited Good Apollo comics, and each issue brings with it another wave of fun because this series is incredible and extremely well done. Truth be told there’s always something around the next corner with this band and their members, and that’s a big reason why I love being a fan of these people and their art.
It’s now been almost 3 months since Neverender in Atlanta. The tour has long since finished, SDCC has come and gone, and once more the quiet waiting has settled in. The lull. But today is my birthday, and I can’t even put into words how incredible it is to wake up to a flood of birthday greetings from literally all over the world. Close friends and acquaintances the same took time out of their days and lives to wish me well on my birthday and the gratitude and love I feel every single year takes my breath away. It doesn’t get old, it never fails to put the biggest smile on my face. In reality my birthday is just another day, but the hundreds of people that I’ve met, or will soon meet, or may never meet make this day special. It serves as a reminder that I have found my home in another place. I am a person with more to offer than the hundred jobs that fall under the stay-at-home-mom blanket title. It carries its own joy, but knowing that I still exist as a person apart from that is a gift because I have lost that before.
There isn’t another community in the entire universe I would rather be a part of than this one. I hold great pride in all of you, my friends who keep me going, who share my life with me and allow me to share in yours. Thank you with my whole heart, and thank you Coheed for doing what you do and caring about your fans and putting so much of your time and effort into making sure each move you make is bigger and better than the last. You boys are a rare gift, and your fans know that fully well with everything you do.
**Disclaimer: I wrote this a little at a time so my apologies for any errant or incoherent parts, or anything I may have left out. “Words don’t come with ease.”