AFI was so awesome Thursday night (9/6)! Kicking off the second leg of the Mourning in Amerika tour in support of Rise Against, the California four piece showed they still have staying power in the goth/pop-punk scene.
My wife Virginia and I made the drive from Omaha to Minneapolis to catch AFI for the fifth time. Virginia might be an even bigger AFI fan than me! She stayed in the front two rows while I captured photos from the pit. After the set, she emerged from the crowd drenched in sweat and proclaimed that it was one of the best AFI shows ever! I too had a near out of body experience. Getting to shoot photos so close was a dream come true!
Before the show I talked to several fans who made even longer drives than we did. I bumped into Zack who had a sweet Rise Against battle jacket. I asked if it was homemade and he said it was from a special pre-order that Rise Against had done a while back. He said he drove in from North Dakota, an eight hour trip! He was excited for Rise Against, but said he would also be making his way back to the Armory again in a few weeks for Dark Tranquility. That’s a lot of driving all within a few weeks! He’s a true die-hard when it comes to metal and hard rock. His brother is a guitar tech for Non Point and In This Moment so he gets the VIP treatment when those bands roll through. My brother plays guitar in several local bands. He should get a guitar tech job so I can get the hook up too!
I really love punk rock and metal shows because you never know what you’ll see whether it’s crazy dyed mohawks, jack boots, battle jackets, or just off the wall outfits. One fan I saw had a really cool straight edge battle vest. I complemented him on it and he said he and his wife came in from New York! He had a few AFI tattoos and said it was his sixth time seeing the band. A lot of hard core fans made the trip. I saw a lot of old AFI tour shirts and plenty of AFI tattoos. From the December Underground rabbits to the newer “Blood Album” drops their true fans were out in full force.
After mingling in the crowd it was time for the show. Political punk rockers Anti-Flag were up first. I remembered seeing Anti-Flag way back in the Warped Tour days. Thinking back, they must have been only in their teens or early twenties at the time. If I recall it was around the time of the Iraq war so a lot of their songs had lyrics mentioned things like oil and bloodshed. The issues may be different today, but the punk rock mentality still remains. The band kicked off the set with a song about police brutality specifically calling out “Philando Castille” who was tragically shot by a Minnesota police officer. This really got the crowd going and a huge circle pit opened up.
The band went on to say how much punk rock is more than just the music, it’s about creating strong relationships and a sense of community. I was really impressed by the way Anti-Flag infused political awareness into their songs without becoming too overbearing. Everyone danced and got sweaty to old and new songs, and it wouldn’t be a proper punk rock show without a Clash cover! “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was a highlight for me. One of the coolest parts of the show was when they put a small drum kit in the front row of the crowd!
Everyone rallied around as they were blasted with the ferocious beats. Anti-Flag was a great time. I’ll have to go again if they come through Omaha or Kansas City.
After Anti-Flag it was time for one of my all time favorites, AFI!!! Dark electronic drums boomed throughout the arena as the lights went dim and the band emerged. Davey stepped forward dressed in all black. Fans screamed and pushed their way forward for a closer glimpse. Davey let out an “Oh!” as the band kicked into “Girl’s Not Grey” form their 2003 masterpiece “Sing the Sorrow”.
AFI still has energy for days! Hunter and Jade continuously bounced from one side of the stage to the other. Davey jumped from the monitors and swung the microphone stand like a madman! After Girl’s Not Grey the band quickly moved into “17 Crimes” from 2013’s “Burials”, an album I really feel got overlooked.
Virginia and I caught AFI on the first show of the Burials tour back in 2013 also in Minneapolis! AFI needs to play closer to Omaha more often. They did play Omaha last summer, but before that it had been over nine years! If you’re from Omaha and you want to catch them it’s probably going to involve over four hours of driving.
Even though the set felt really short compared to a headline set, it was still a great time. Davey of course made his way into the crowd during “I Hope You Suffer”.
I really hope to see AFI again soon, but I’ve heard rumblings of a new Blaqk Audio record (Davey and Jade’s electronic side project) and who knows what’s going on with Davey’s other side project Dreamcar (Guys from No Doubt and Davey). I suspect this will be the last AFI tour for a little while, but I’m excited to see what comes next, either a new AFI record, or Blaqk Audio or even Dreamcar. If you haven’t checked out Dreamcar’s self titled record that came out last summer do yourself a favor and give it a Spotify, it’s great!
After a short break headliners Rise Against came out to thousands of screaming fans. They had crazy strobe lights and green and blue lighting which was a little tricky to photograph. I was able to eek out a few decent shots by the end of the first three songs. I didn’t stay for the full set since I was there to see AFI, but from what I caught they sounded good. Looking at the set list nearly every song was a radio single. They definitely have enough hits in their arsenal at this point they could play all radio singles if they wanted to!
I know there were a lot of die-hards for AFI and Anti-Flag in attendance, but by the time Rise Against came on you could tell who the majority of fans were waiting for. The number of crowd surfers shot up immediately and the circle pit was raging. Rise Against really knows how to put on a great show.
Overall, the trip was a great success. I had an awesome time getting to talk to fans outside of my local scene and taking photos of one of my all time favorites. For that alone, it will go down as one of the best shows ever!
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