Words by Danny Steiner | Photos by Jacki Vitetta
Last Saturday night, Denver witnessed the return of California punk outfit AFI to Colorado soil after a prolonged absence. Made famous by their eclectic discography, the band’s energy and intensity at the show made it well worth the wait.
While I had seen them at a festival previously, I was eager to see how they structured their live show, especially since the release of their latest self-titled album. AFI has evolved with every release, both sonically and aesthetically, so I entered the venue with little idea of what to expect.
The night kicked off with Carpinteria, CA’s own Souvenirs. They played a more melancholic, downtrodden set for the night, which my friend accurately surmised as “Maroon 5 for sad people.”
The indie-synth-pop group, The Chain Gang of 1974 followed Souvenirs. Chain Gang played a lively set, but were plagued by difficulties with their monitor engineer early on in their set.
Finally, it was AFI’s turn to take the stage. As the lights went out, the energy in the room grew with anticipation as their walk up track bellowed throughout the cavernous Gothic Theatre. Within seconds of their first song, the room exploded. The opening chords to “This Celluloid Dream” rang out and Davey Havok’s signature “Oh!” signaled a smooth start.
The band’s cult-like relationship with their followers became more pronounced as their set continued. Perched upon his throne, Havok gesticulated in a god-like way to the worshippers at his feet, while the rest of the band executed a polished performance that reflected their 20+ years as a group.
A majority of the set list featured songs from the latter half of their career. However, in addition to playing classics from the canon such as “Girls Not Grey” and “Leaving Song Pt. 2,” AFI chose deeper cuts that one might not expect them to play, like “The Leaving Song.” This kept the show a surprise as I eagerly awaited to see what other songs they might play.
The night capped out with AFI playing two encores. The last one consisted solely of the song “Totalimmortal,” which helped to end their set with a stark reminder of the band’s resilience to making any compromise with every release, and their commitment to continually evolve, and go at their own pace.
The Chain Gang of 1974