February 9, 2017 AFI Tear Up Terminal 5, NYC 2-3-17
Few bands are able to celebrate 25 years and 10 albums together, but California quartet AFI are doing just that with The Blood Tour, which came rolling through New York City’s Terminal 5 on Friday, February 3rd. One of the early year’s most anticipated tours, a sold out crowd of 3,000 packed into the venue, eager to watch Vocalist Davey Havok, Guitarist Jade Puget, Bassist Hunter Burgan, and Drummer Adam Carson play a monumental career-spanning set.
This in mind, AFI fans are among the most dedicated and passionate on the scene, allowing the band’s new record, AFI (The Blood Album), to reach #5 on the Billboard top 200 the week of its release. The Blood Album, released January 20th on Concord Records, is the band’s tenth studio album and their first in nearly four years. With a story dating back to 1991, when the band began as a Punk Hardcore outfit in Ukiah, California, since then, their sound has evolved. Natural for many bands, their evolution includes influence of New Wave and Pop, but through it all, AFI have never lost sight of their roots.
As for The Blood Tour, this run sees AFI performing their first US shows since 2014. That said, the palpable anticipation in the multi-level Terminal 5 was proof fans were eager to see the band on stage again after so many years, but, alas, they would have to wait just a bit longer.
First to take the stage was fellow Californians Souvenirs. Formed back in 2011, the band led by Vocalist/Guitarist Tim Riley wasted no time jumping into their set, which consisted of mellow, heartfelt songs. Winning the crowd over by the conclusion of their thirty minute set, their performance included songs such as “Roman Candle,” “You Affect Me,” as well as “4th and Holly,” all of which are off their new record, Posture of Apology. Released on January 20th through Other People Records, the album also includes a song where Havok lends his guest vocals, giving people even more incentive to check out this young and promising band.Following Souvenirs was Philadelphia Shoegaze outfit Nothing. Following founding member Domenic Palermo’s stint in prison, several grievous injuries, and the collapse of label Collect Records, Nothing have somehow managed to release two excellent LPs and tour extensively.
With Palermo leading the band, Vocalist/Guitarist Brandon Setta, Bassist Nick Bassett, along with Drummer Kyle Kimball’s dreamy, heavy mix of misanthropic Indie, Alternative, and Shoegaze had the crowd politely bobbing their heads along, starting with the track “Chloroform.” Segueing seamlessly from song to song, they performed “Vertigo Flowers,” “Eaten by Worms,” and “A.C.D. (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder),” from their recent recent LP, 2016 Tired of Tomorrow. The band even teased a few opening chords from famed Nirvana tracks – several heads in the audience perked up, but they were not rewarded, eliciting both laughs and groans. Overall, Nothing was flawless in their opening set, making them much more than their name implies.As fans eagerly awaited AFI to take the stage, several chants of “Through our bleeding, we are won,” erupted from the crowd for the first of many times that evening. The chant originates from the opening track of 1999’s Black Sails in the Sunset – an AFI show without its being shouted during every moment of downtime (though these moments are few and far between) is a rarity. The chants grew louder and the hum of anticipation inside Terminal 5 came to a crescendo as the lights finally went down. The densely packed crowd surged forward to greet the members of AFI as they filed on the stage to raucous cheers.
Somehow, all the noise became even louder as the band dove right into the anthemic “Miss Murder,” from 2006’s Decemberunderground. The song is arguably their most recognizable and commercially successful. Even those unfamiliar with AFI have likely heard the rollicking bass line and hooky chorus “Hey, Miss Murder can I make beauty stay if I take my life?” The entire crowd, from the floor to the venue’s upper levels, was bouncing and singing along with each word as if it were the final encore, but the night was only just beginning.
Moving forward, “Miss Murder” was followed by “The Leaving Song Pt. II,” a single from the band’s magnum opus, 2003’s Sing The Sorrow. The throng of fans immediately parted as a mosh pit erupted in the center of the crowd, its swirling energy remaining through the song’s final, desperate scream. “Aurelia,” the first song played off the band’s new record, sounded outstanding live, and despite The Blood Album’s recent release, fans sang happily along to every word.
The elation in the room continued to build through another Sing the Sorrow single, “Girl’s Not Grey,” and “The Conductor,” from 2013’s Burials. AFI then went into a deep cut from their 1997 LP Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes, entitled “Triple Zero,” the first time the song has been played since 2010. Despite the mesmerizing projections played behind the band during each track, all eyes were on Havok and company as they completely owned the stage during “17 Crimes,” new anthem “Dumb Kids,” and another deep cut, this time from Black Sails in the Sunset, “Clove Smoke Catharsis.”
Though it seems as though each song was a highlight, the most awe-inspiring moment saw Havok walk into the crowd with fans holding him up as he belted out the final chorus of one of the band’s hardest-hitting tracks, “I Hope You Suffer,” as an eerie, surreal black and white video looped in the background. Rounding out the set, the band departed the stage after Sing the Sorrow’s “Silver and Cold,” but repeated chants of “through our bleeding, we are one,” brought them back with thunderous cheers. The encore consisted of the rarely-played and haunting “The Face Beneath the Waves,” followed by another Sing the Sorrow rarity, “This Celluloid Dream,” to finish out the night.
AFI’s stage presence was nothing short of incredible. Puget and Burgan did not miss a beat as they sailed across the stage with jumps and kicks, and Carson’s drumming was impeccable. Havok enraptured the crowd and had each fan in the palm of his hand from the minute he appeared until vanishing, leaving the audience begging for just “one more song.” The room was still abuzz as the crowd slowly filed out of the venue, though many stayed, pressed close to the stage well past the set’s end, not wanting the evening to end.
As always, AFI put on an incredible show that never let up. Twenty-five years as a band is an incredible feat, and their live shows get better and better as time goes on. AFI’s legacy spans decades and their music is influenced by a wide range of genres from Punk, to Hardcore, to Pop, to New Wave (Havok even cited and dedicated a song to “New York’s own Sick of It All”), and the audience at Terminal 5 was made up of fans of all ages and aesthetics. The band’s energy and stage presence indicated that they remain as passionate about their music and their performance as their dedicated fanbase known as The Despair Faction. The Blood Tour continues to travel the US through February, and, in May, the band will be touring the UK, opening for Deftones. Hopefully the band will bring another amazing tour through NYC again soon.Photos by: Andrew Fiero Photography