It’s a rarity in Utah for a show to be sold out, especially as early as AFI did. Lucky for me, I was granted access to witness the outstanding performance. With charismatic movements and a loyal fanbase, AFI re-established their place as concert masters.
The show opened with Souvenirs‘ body shaking, foot tapping, and soothing vocal tones. By playing the music off their new record, Posture of Apology, Souvenirs showed the crowd how to invest in the music, and what it looks like when four artists love what they do.
Afterwards, Chain Gang of 1974 brought falsetto lifting, memory inducing, happy rock. With audio effects and dancing instrumentals, Chain Gang brought immersive lyrics to jubilant rock and roll. The whispered song “Slow” settled softly over the tightly packed room and sang a mournful tune. That stance held until keyboard fun joined the charge and the lead vocalist put the guitar in his hands. From there a touch of darkness followed; just a touch though, as Chain Gang of 1974 is remained elated to the closing of their set.
It was at that time, the pause before the next set, the loyal fan-base traded AFI concert stories like the baby-boomers did with baseball cards. These are the people who never forgot their musical roots. An AFI crowd grew into adulthood with the vocals of Davey Havok, just as AFI has evolved from each album to the next. It’s no wonder this generation of music fanatics has a high expectation for uniqueness in sound, as AFI set the highest standard.
The fan’s cheered as the speakers exploded with a mixed introduction of AFI hits. Then, in studded leather, the band took the stage with the echoing riffs of “The Leaving Song Part II.” Havok dropped to his knees with his patented scream-squeak while the crowd pushed forward, scrambling to be closer to the idol’s onstage. The concert continued with full room participation in never forgotten lyrics. Havok’s voice reached above the singing audience, creating a choir-like reverberation of each song, from “17 Crimes” to “Follow.”
Each impactful note attached itself, creating a connection with the audience unlike anything I have ever witnessed. A cohesive half count clap erupted, simultaneous and accurate enough to label every fan a musician or, more likely, AFI’s performance created an unbreakable unity. I lean toward the ladder as each song pulled the audience into subconscious motions that mirrored the band. When “Beautiful Thieves” bellowed its riff-brimming guitar work, the crowd swayed to the music. A satisfying peace fell over the room as the vocals enveloped the space.
AFI bantered and laughed, treated us to the never-before-played-live track “Above the Bridge,” and dropped the mic in an explosion of white light through a red transparent drumset. The concert was a theatrical trip through albums of the past.
I mentally begged for my track, I pleaded for my song, and wished for”I Hope You Suffer,” My hopes were granted as a half of the two-part encore. In true performance fashion, Havok climbed on top of the crowds uplifted hands in passionate, skilled, and a powerful display of artistry. Then, back-bowed and muscle strained, he gave an improvised scream as the song closed. A scream that should have always been on the track, but all the more special because it isn’t.
The memory will never fade and my favorite songs have been renewed by the performance of these professionals. This was a concert to revive the music we all once resided.