It’s rare to attend a gig where all three artists are worthy of headlining their own sell-out show. The descent of the Unheavenly Skye tour — featuring Every Time I Die, Mastodon, and Coheed and Cambria — gave San Diegans a chance to experience this for themselves.
Progressive metal titans Coheed and Cambria & Mastodon have been touring together with Brooklyn hardcore act Every Time I Die for a month, nearing the end of their 25-show tour around the US. Their landing spot in San Diego was the Park at the Park behind downtown’s Petco Park. The open green space was flooded with metal and prog-rock enthusiasts, perched on the venue’s small hill and catching sun rays before descending into the mosh as the bands took to the stage.
Every Time I Die were full of energy and vitality despite having 20 years of touring under their belt. What is interesting about the musical stylings of Every Time I Die is how they mix Southern rock riffs into their hardcore foundations – matching harsh vocals, propulsive D-beats, and intense breakdowns with gritty riffs bound to get you grooving. Closing their set with nostalgic classics like The New Black had the crowd going mental – enough to entice guitarist Jordan Buckley to crowdsurf while playing his closing solo. There was something special about watching a mosh pit develop in broad daylight. It was equal parts chaotic and wholesome. But as intense as the pit was for Every Time I Die, it only increased in fervor as Mastodon took to the stage.
Mastodon gave the audience a blast from the past with a playthrough of their fourth full-length album, 2009’s Crack the Skye. Mastodon’s characteristic take on progressive metal was in full swing, with one song blending smoothly into the next, catchy riffs swirling around providing a sense of constant momentum, and an aura of technical mastery emanating from each musician. The sense of constant movement was matched by the backing visuals that towered behind the band on five vertical panels. An animated video was telling the story of a dying, paraplegic astral traveler journeying through wormholes, mirroring the album’s lyrical themes. It was exactly as crazy as it sounds.
Taking the stage as the sun had fully descended, Coheed and Cambria continued this act of storytelling to a fully-enthralled audience. Something about the loss of sunlight led to the performance feeling even more intimate, as every face was turned to the stage. Coheed and Cambria largely played from their 2018 science-fiction concept album, The Unheavenly Creatures. Technical mastery that can only come from decades of performance abounded, of course. But it was the anthem-like quality of their music had much of the crowd singing (and screaming!) along passionately. It was a powerful performance and a solid finale to a spectacular pairing of bands.