I’ll admit it: I was a junior high school goth kid. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out I’d get to reclaim my spooky roots at an AFI show on All Hallows Eve.
Touché Amoré, who play piercingly straightforward post-hardcore, opened the night. Watching them perfect their sound over the years has been incredible—the band seems to be at their absolute best currently, honing a combination of aggressive music with stunning lyrics. While I overheard some people mention that they seemed like a strange band for AFI to take on tour, I couldn’t help but feel that it made an immense amount of sense. AFI and Touché seem to be cut from the same cloth, and while they differ sonically, their roots are similar in many aspects.
Entering the stage dressed as various foods (vocalist Jeremy Bolm referred to his band as “Food Chain Amoré”) the band blazed through an impressive twenty two songs in just over 45 minutes. With a new album out on Deathwish Records just two months ago, the band seems revitalized and excited to be showcasing new songs after two years supporting their last release.
Though the juxtaposition of listening to such heavy music being played by men dressed as a hotdog, an egg, and a taco respectively, was a little humorous, the band elicited what seemed like a very emotional response from the crowd, Bolm taking a few moments to talk about their roots and how incredible the tour had been treating them.
Playing Portland for the first time in nearly six years, AFI took the stage to a sold out room, chanting in unison “we are one, we are no one” (lyrics from 2006 release Decemberunderground). While the band has been known to open with “Girls Not Grey,” they opted to go with “Strength Through Wounding” which is a song that allegedly has not been played since 2003—a clear nod to the diehards, this was a perfect way to set the stride of the night. With a new album out just a few weeks back, I would have expected the band to focus on songs from it, but was pleasantly surprised at how deep they delved into their extensive back-catalogue.
AFI, who have been a band for over two decades, have certainly had time to hone their stage shows and performances—what comes out is enormous sounding, Davey Havok’s vocals and stage antics impossible to not intrigue. Clad in all black, Havok took the stage in a flourish of fog, and immediately stepped into the crowd which only incited pandemonium. They wasted no time breaking into the set, playing songs from many of their releases including a Cure cover during their encore.
For a band who has had so much time to evolve, AFI have stayed strikingly close to their originating ethics and sounds—there’s a heavy, foreboding quality in their music, which makes Halloween a perfect time to watch them perform. Many people in the crowd were dressed up, which made the movement of the crowd that much more entertaining. Have you ever seen a girl dressed as Gene Simmons from KISS mosh? Neither had I. There’s a first time for everything.
Between the crowds chants, Havok’s penchant for climbing into the crowd, and a single jack o’ lantern softly flickering from sidestage, the show was impressive to watch and even more impressive to hear.
Words by Jenna Fletcher. Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.