Normally when you go to see a band of a younger generation, there is usually the ever-wonderful problem of stage volume syndrome.  Larger venues ask the performers to turn down their amplifiers because the theatre has a multi-million dollar speaker system that can accentuate each instrument and improve the overall experience for the audience.  To most of the public’s dismay, bands just can’t do this—they require the omnipresence of blaring amps and squealing vocals that they use as their monitors instead of the expensive boxes on the floor in front of them.  Copeland doesn’t ever have to worry about this; their problem is actually the polar opposite. 

Arriving at the venue right before the show started, I was a little surprised by the composition of the crowd: a mix of college football enthusiasts, young men who looked as though they had just stepped out of the pages of a Paul Mitchell catalog with their plain-Jane girlfriends, and boppy teenage girls brandishing bleached blonde hair and Trapper Keepers.  Being an impatient man, I couldn’t bare the thought of having to wait in line with the cast of One Tree Hill, so I finagled myself a way in. 


Positioning myself at the top of the Loge section of the venue, I noticed the setup on the stage: piano off to stage right, three guitar amps, drums, and a bass setup.  Let’s examine some triple-threat bands (three guitar players): Lynard Skynard, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Blue Oyster Cult, Molly Hatchet…and Copeland?  It’s hard to envision Copeland having such intricate guitar work that they require a third guitarist, and it’s definitely not to fill out their massive sound.  So when the band took the stage, I was curious to see what was to come.  Starting off the set with a lively, piano-driven ditty, the band coasted through some of their newer material off of Eat, Sleep, Repeat before front man Aaron Marsh traded the ivories for the fretted nickel. 

Copeland doesn’t necessarily need three guitar players to get through their set, but after seeing them perform, I think that if Marsh hadn’t picked up that guitar, I’d have picked up and left.  The band is amazing, they are great musicians, and they write great material…they are just lifeless up there.  When they do move, they resemble Crispin Glover mixed with Ed Grimley. 

Thankfully, Marsh was able to lead the band through an array of songs from In Motion and Beneath the Medicine Tree, including personal favorite, “Pin Your Wings Down,” while moving enough to maintain my interest.  All in all, the band played a very solid set, with few hiccups.  Copeland has successfully put out three albums to critical review, has toured all over the world to the delight of thousands, and has maintained integrity as a pop band that hasn’t gone too “emo” or even attempted to latch on to the “screamo” scene onto which a shit-ton of bands have jumped.

For being their second tour with Switchfoot (or “Switchfeet” as Marsh called them), Copeland doesn’t really seem to be at ease on the stage.  Sure they’ve had five years or more to hone in on their skills and stage presence, but another couple months in the oven might really be of some help.  However, hundreds of thousands of Copeland fans can’t be wrong: the band does (in the auditory sense) successfully rock the casbah—as much as a piano-oriented, falsetto-infused soft rock band can. 

I probably wouldn’t fork out the ticket price to see them when they come to town again if they’re on a sub-par bill, but I will be rushing to Best Buy on New Release Tuesday when their next CD comes out.  By the way—Eat, Sleep, Repeat is in stores now…go get it.

Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.