Before AFI took the stage Friday night, the crowd at the sold-out Epic nightclub in Minneapolis began an impromptu, fist-pumping chant: "Through our bleeding, we are one!"
Taken from AFI's 1999 album Black Sails in the Sunset, the chant demonstrated the close relationship the band's followers have with the music; there was a profound sense that seeing AFI live is a communal experience for the fans, who pressed toward the stage to dance, fight, sweat, and sing together as the band took the stage and began their set.
Though AFI's new album Crash Lovehad only been available for a few days, many in the audience were already familiar with the songs and had no trouble singing along, including the opener "Torch Song."
Lead singer Davey Havok was the glammed-out savior for a congregation of pop-punk disciples, although these days he seems like an unlikely icon for the sea of black t-shirts that populate the audience at AFI gigs, with his shimmering white sport coat and his dramatically gelled coiffure. But soon enough Havok gave in to his punk roots, stripping down to his own black tee and even flailing his body into the crowd to surf on outstretched hands during "The Leaving Song, Pt. II."
AFI's set spanned a handful of genres and styles, from their older hardcore tunes (including "Ny-Quil," which Havok said he remembered playing at their very first gig in Minneapolis years ago) to their newer, more mainstream pop-punk and goth songs.
Through it all, the band was airtight and almost unbelievably precise. At times the guitar seemed to get lost in the mix, making it difficult to even pick out Jade Puget's solos, but otherwise their live sound was clean, punchy, and coated in some of the same pop sheen that is present on their recent albums.
Havok was a charismatic and captivating leader. At times he would pause to look at the crowd in awe, holding up his microphone stand to catch the screams from the die-hard fans dangling themselves over the balcony and gesturing along with his every word.
Before leaving the stage, he thanked the crowd for coming and declaring, "It was a fucking joy."
Girl's Not Grey
The Leaving Song, Pt. II
Dancing Through Sunday
The Leaving Song
On the Arrow
Death of Seasons
Veronica Sawyer Smokes
Love Like Winter
It Was Mine