*photos by Justin Roth
*review by Matt Haskill
It was the autumn of ’99 when an older brother of a kid at school said I should listen to a band called AFI. Soon after the band would release The Art of Drowning album and pretty much every punk kid in your town was an AFI fan itching to get a bat tattoo. In July of 2003 I finally got to see the band in concert during the Sing the Sorrow tour. AFI had just elevated status once again going from Alternative Press darlings to MTV high rotation with out catching much flack for jumping to a major label (that ish was a big deal back then). Now in 2017 the band continues playing sold out shows.
As I approach the venue the classic marquee of the Danforth Music Hall is lit up “TONIGHT SOLD-OUT AFI.” I hear the band tear into the iconic opening riff of “This Celluloid Dream” as I make my way through the usual security shake downs and find my way into the packed crowd. The band feed off the crowd’s energy through “17 Crimes”, and “Aurelia“off their freshly released self titled album (also referred to as The Blood Album) before digging out a song not performed live since 2010, Okay I Feel Better Now.
Looking around the room the audience age range spans nearly the 18 years the current line up have been together. From fresh early twenty something scene kids, all the way to what I like to refer as Advanced Punk (aka tattoos and a day job, +/- baby in Misfits onesie) and everything in between. As the band continued, the set list definitely reflected their tenure as they visited several cuts from Sing the Sorrow (2003) and delved as far back as quint-essential The Art of Drowning (2000) with “6 to 8” and “The Days of the Phoenix” igniting audience into sea of body surfers. Davey at one point during I hope You Suffer climbs into the audience to continue performing aloft the crowd of fans below with body surfers frantically edging their way to towards the frontman.
Closing off the set was 2006’s “Miss Murder” before a quick two song encore of fan favourites from Sing the Sorrow. The lights came on while fans continued to hang back and cheer for one more song. I was about to throw in the towel on the effort until one by one Davey, Jade, Hunter and Adam made their way back on stage to play The Lost Souls with just as much intensity as they began with. Always one to engage the audience Davey made his way back out into the audience mic draped over his neck during the solo, as he is supported atop the crowd he sing the bridge with a choir of devoted fans singing along to every word as the song hits its climactic chanted gang vocals. Everyone in the room is now thoroughly satisfied with the events of the evening.
As the audience spills out on to the Danforth everyone reaching for smokes or digging for tokens is grinning ear-to-ear talking up their favourite moments of the evening. AFI are definitely a band that continues to change and grow musically but stays loyal to their audience and that is definitely working out for them.