AFI Dives Head First into Boston Headlining Show
House of Blues Boston
October 25th 2009
I’ll start this review by saying this was my second time seeing AFI in less than two weeks, and I’ve already written a glowing review of their Providence Performance here. So, I’ll just get the praise out of the way early. AFI once again sounded great and brought a boatload of energy to the stage with them. They once again played a set that was a little too short and a little too thin on older favorites. And once again, they made both of these concerns seem like an afterthought with their performance.
The night began with the realization that AFI isn’t as big as they used to be. The House of Blues was as empty as I’ve ever seen it, with the mezzanine level closed off and floor only about half full. The only opening act was Boston’s own the Unseen, an old-school punk band that played solid set and was well received by those in the crowd. The group’s mohawked frontman Mark Unseen was even able to inspire a large circle pit towards the end of the set as he jumped down from the stage and allowed those at the front to do the vocal work.
AFI would make thier traditionally grand entrance and start the set just as they had done in Providence, with “Torch Song” and then “Girls Not Grey.” Seeing as that the band doesn’t change up their setlist very often, I wasn’t expecting many surprises. However, it was obvious from the start that lead singer Davey Havok and Co. were ready to give it their all on what was the last night of the tour’s first leg.
During the set’s third track, “The Leaving Song Pt. II,” Havok would do a flying somersault into the crowd, causing a free for all that had everyone at the front of the venue wildly grabbing for a piece of the charasmatic frontman. After clawing his way back to the stage, Havok would jokingly scold one fan for trying to rip off his shoe.
This would not be Havok’s only foray into the crowd, for he would return later in the set for a successful head-walk. The band would throw in the set’s big surprise with “The Despair Factor,” a rarely played track from 2000’s The Art of Drowning. During this song it became clear that while many of the band’s fair weather fans might have skipped the show, the diehards were well represented. This became even more clear when the band would play “Don’t Make Me Ill” from 1995’s Answer That and Stay Fashionable. Havok once again climbed down from the stage to share the mic with the enthusiastic fans pressed up against the barrier.
Once again, the band’s new songs may not pack the same punch as some of their older counterparts, but they still sound great in a live environment and had those in the crowd singing along. As in Providence, AFI would preform Crash Love lead single “Medicate” towards the end of the set, and it would once again receive only a luke-warm reception compared to the other Crash Love songs.
After closing the set with “Love Like Winter,” the band would return to the stage for an encore that began with undoubtadly the show’s best moment, “The Interview.” The often spectacular light show would be put on hold for a song as Havok and guitarist Jade Pudget would trade lines on the somber Decemberunderground track.
Closing the set with “Miss Muder” and “Silver and Cold,” the band would put an exclamation point on a show that had witnessed quartete at their best. While they had put in a very solid effort in Providence, they seemed to bring something extra to the Boston show. Havok’s stage diving antics showed he hasn’t lost touched with his hardcore roots, while Pudget, bassists Hunter Bergan and drummer Adam Carson were once again supurb in providing the soundtrack.
It’s unfortunate that AFI’s constant reinventions haven’t sat too well with the fans who flocked to the band during the Sing the Sorrow era, but it is obvious that they’re the ones missing out, as AFI continues to put on spectacular live shows. The crowd at the House of Blues would certainly attest to this.