October 15, 2013 AFI at Starland Ballroom NJ 10-12-13 (Exclusive coverage)
Think back to when you first started attending rock concerts and the bands that you loved. Chances are three letters come to mind, A. F. I. This American rock band is from Ukiah, California. They started making music together since 1991, have kept the same lineup going strong since ’98, have released eight studio albums, 10 EP’s, and a DVD with material ranging from angsty punk, deep beautiful singing there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. This is why when we were given the chance to cover them at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on October 12, 2013 we jumped at the opportunity. To no surprise, A.F.I played to a crowd that sold out weeks before the show. While walking in, past the line of eager fans that wrapped around the building, you noticed only a see of black and those three letters covering everything from jackets to pants. Doors opened and the crowds rushed in awaiting the first of three bands playing that night.
Coming, a lesser-known band from California whose style reminded me of AFI’s Answer That And Stay Fashionable era, came on stage with guns blazing. Each song seemed to bring out more energy from the band as they went. The passion they had for their music and the release it gave them were apparent as the sweat poured from there faces. Although, it was a tough sell to a crowd who seemingly came for one band, you could still catch a handful singing along.
Second on the list, responsible for getting the all ready pumped up crowd excited and ready for AFI, is none other then American post hardcore band Touche Amore. This Los Angeles band known for their aggressive and honest lyrics as well as their high-energy stage performance, did not let down. Throughout the whole set, lead vocalist Jeremy Bolm made sure to involve the eager crowd in their set as much as possible by jumping down and climbing into the fans. They put so much heart and energy into their set. They literally blew out there kick drum during the last few songs, still managing to press on, finish their set as pieces of the drum tore, and shot away. Upon completion of the last song, you could feel the energy of the sold out crowd, as they knew what was next….
The lights through the ballroom turned down and the roar of people started chanting lyrics from AFI’s single “Strength Through Wounding” from the bands 1999 released record Black Sails In The Sunset. As each member made their way on stage, the energy in the room grew. Feeding off it, lead vocalist Davey Havok appeared as their hit song “The leaving song pt. 2” started. Davey, being the energetic front man that he is, wasted no time engaging the crowd. Seconds into “Girls not Grey” he front flipped off stage upon the fans that love him. During AFI’s nineteen-song set they did not skip a beat showing a stage presence that only comes from touring and living with each other for twenty plus years. At one point, Havok made his way to the middle of the sold out crowd and stood on the human floor as ecstatic fans made the climb for seconds of mic time with there idol. AFI continues on the road with 20 more announced tour dates both in the US and Australia. It is strongly recommended to not miss seeing possibly one of the best live performances any band can offer. Get your tickets fast as half the dates are sold out with the rest sure not far behind. A thank you goes out to the band for reminding us just how special a concert is.
Written by Jesse Murch