Review by The Atheist Angel
On October 10th, 2009, A.F.I. returned to Sayreville’s own “>Starland Ballroom with openers The Gallows as part of the Crash Love tour. Considered by singer Havok to be, “their first truly timeless record” and critics citing it as their most focused and ambitious effort to date, the live performance held a lot of promise and expectation. Naturally, in true A.F.I. fashion, not only was the crowd given an unforgettable performance complete with surprise guest appearances, but a sound so crisp and clean one can’t help but give respect in a time when so many artists depend on machines to give them their sound.
As soon as the house lights dimmed on this chilly Saturday night, the crowd instantly burst into a unified cheer. This was it- in one more moment each audiences members ears and eyes would be indulged in A.F.I. glory. In what seemed like less than a minute, Adam, Hunter, Jade, and finally Davey Havok himself, stepped on stage and tore into their first song of the night, “Torch Song”. Setting the precedent for the rest of the show, their high energy presence slipped seamlessly into a fan favorite, “Girl’s Not Grey”. It wasn’t until after their third song Davey chose to address the crowd expressing in true sincerity, how great it was to be back in Jersey (and Jersey was beyond happy to have them back). The band’s energy was matched by the crowd, as each song had hundreds of hands and fists in the air, all moving as one entity with each pound of the bass drum. Even on slower numbers the audience lent their voices and lighters, or in this case cell phones, to create a show experience that neither the band nor the fans would soon forget. But some of the highlights of the show came as complete surprises. During “Kill Caustic”, Davey Havok announced his pleasure in bringing good friend Lou Koller of the band Sick of It All to join him on vocals. The crowd instantly cheered while Havok and Koller tore the vocals apart, giving the song a new life appreciated by all. The next jaw dropping moment, at least for this fan, came when A.F.I. decided to play the vinyl only release “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”- proving that despite the years of evolution and change, this band absolutely is still true to their roots and does so with just as much punk rock enthusiasm now as they did then.
At the end of “Love Like Winter”, the band graciously thanked the audience and departed off stage. Now pitched in darkness, the walls of Starland Ballroom began to resonate with the familiar chant, “through our bleeding, we are one” over and over, slowly gaining voices and speed bringing the darkness to life as we all demanded more music. Minutes later, the direct approach of “one more song!” saw the four veteran musicians return to the stage and tear into a brilliant cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”. Two more songs followed suit for this encore and when it came time for the band to say goodbye for real, every member of that audience was left in complete musical satisfaction.
No matter what your opinion of A.F.I.’s music might be, this is one band that stands and delivers with their live performance every time they grace a stage both visually and in sound quality. If ever given the opportunity, this is a band I completely recommend seeing whenever they find themselves in your area.
Complete Set List
Girl’s Not Grey
The Leaving Song Pt. II
Veronica Sawyer Smokes
Ever And A Day
Love is a Many Splendored Thing
Dancing Through Sunday
The Leaving Song
On The Arrow
Death of Seasons
Love Like Winter
Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
Silver and Cold