Recap: AFI Previews ‘Bodies’ Tour in LA with an Electrifying Mix of Old, New and Everything in Between


Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

There are two distinct eras of AFI.

The first is the noisy hardcore/punk group that emerged from Ukiah, California in the early-to-mid 1990s, amassing a fervent audience enraptured with vocalist Davey Havok and his commanding onstage persona.

The second was marked by the crossover success of AFI’s fifth record, 2000’s The Art of Drowning, which merged their underground punk roots with a more of-the-time radio sensibility, best heard on “Days of the Phoenix.” The album was the band’s first to appear on the Billboard charts, the momentum clearly in place.

But it was on 2003’s Sing the Sorrow that AFI truly broke through, hitting No. 5 on the Billboard album charts, four-time Vans Warped Tour participants and one of the most substantial “emo/punk” breakthrough acts of its era thanks to songs like “Girl’s Not Grey”:

Five albums have since followed, the most recent being last year’s Bodies, and each has found Havok and band mates branch out further from their punk roots — while retaining a sense of style all their own.

It’s been a wild journey of music exploration over the years, and while the stylistic shifts have no doubt polarized hardcore AFI fans along the way, it’s been a rewarding experience to witness.

This past weekend, AFI played two sold-out shows at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, a staggered launch to the band’s Bodies Tour. The shows were to be the official start of a national tour, but the rest of the dates were pushed back to the fall due to lingering issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and travel safety.

If the shows AFI puts together in the fall are anything like these two Palladium gigs, fans are in for an absolute treat — because not only did AFI embrace its early days and satisfy (most) of its old-school fans in attendance, but the new material served up alongside it was among the strongest.

For about two hours, AFI traced its history with a visceral, emotional performance that featured five songs from The Art of Drowning, the most of any album represented on the night. Known as a group that switches up its sets on a nearly nightly basis, AFI lived up to that promise. According to Setlist.fm, these were AFI’s first public concerts since August of 2019 — and that significant, pandemic-created gap between performances provided plenty of pent-up energy to express throughout the night.

And express it they did. Havok, stylish as always in a heavy leather jacket emblazoned with “Death Of The Party” on its back, routinely ran to either edge of the stage to get up and personal with fans in the front row, many of them screaming along with classics like “Ever and a Day” and the aforementioned “Days of the Phoenix.”

Around him, drummer Adam Carson, guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter Burgan laid down the groundwork for Havok’s powerful presence, always among the strongest parts of the AFI live experience. “This Celluloid Dream,” a fan favorite from Sing the Sorrow, featured Havok in his element:

Standing among AFI fans on the packed Palladium floor, it was clear most had been anticipating these shows for a while. Some even lined up hours early (overnight, even!) outside the venue doors, staking out a spot in line to hopefully end up at the barricade, as close to the action as possible.

Those who did likely felt their efforts justified when Havok got face-to-face for “Ever and a Day”:

He also did that for “I Hope You Suffer,” from 2013’s Burials.

Havok seemed truly committed to making even this mid-size venue feel as intimate as possible, as if fans were catching AFI in a sweaty, tiny night club. His efforts were matched by fans’ enthusiasm, which melded with the energy put forth by the band to form an electrifying performance all around.

More than 30 years since its formation in 1991, AFI knows its audience well. The band knows what these fans want (older songs), but also wants to present some of its stronger new material, as well (like “Dulceria,” from Bodies). The result was a solid set list that bridged the gap between eras in AFI’s versatile catalog, and would be a definite crowd-pleasing assortment of songs should the group adopt similar set lists in the fall.

AFI at the Hollywood Palladium (Photo: @JarrodAnthonee)

AFI at the Hollywood Palladium (Photo: @JarrodAnthonee)

Catch the Bodies Tour if AFI has ever held your interest at any point over the past two-plus decades. Chances are, you’ll see a song you wanted to hear, as well as some more that you may discover for the first time.

At the very least, you’ll be entertained throughout.

AFI set list, Hollywood Palladium, March 26

Strength Through Wounding
This Celluloid Dream
Girl’s Not Grey
Dulcería
Begging for Trouble
17 Crimes
Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings)
Ever and a Day
End Transmission
6 to 8
Get Dark
Of Greetings and Goodbyes
Tied to a Tree
I Hope You Suffer
The Days of the Phoenix
Miss Murder

Encore:
Morningstar
Silver and Cold

The dates:

Oct 21 SOMA San Diego, CA
Oct 22 When We Were Young Fest Las Vegas, NV
Oct 23 When We Were Young Fest Las Vegas, NV
Oct 25 House of Blues Anaheim, CA
Oct 28 Marquee Theatre Phoenix, AZ
Oct 29 When We Were Young Fest Las Vegas, NV
Nov 04 Franklin Music Hall Philadelphia, PA
Nov 05 Agora Ballroom Cleveland, OH
Nov 07 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Nov 08 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Nov 09 Terminal 5 New York, NY
Nov 11 Royale Boston, MA
Nov 12 Stage AE Pittsburgh, PA
Nov 14 Majestic Theater Detroit, MI
Nov 15 Riviera Theatre Chicago, IL
Nov 16 Fillmore Minneaplis, MN
Nov 18 Fillmore Aditorium Denver, CO
Nov 19 Union Event Center Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 21 Showbox SoDo Seattle, WA
Nov 22 Roseland Theater Portland, OR
Nov 23 Fox Theater Oakland, CA
Nov 25 Ventura Theater Ventura, CA
Nov 26 Rialto Theatre Tucson, AZ
Nov 28 Emo’s Austin, TX
Nov 29 White Oak Music Hall Houston, TX
Nov 30 House of Blues Dallas, TX
Dec 02 Buckhead Theatre Atlanta, GA
Dec 03 House of Blues Orlando, FL



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