Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall, February 9, 2007

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

When AFI was announced to play the Newport Music Hall early this year, it wasn't any surprise to see the SOLD OUT tagline added to the show date soon after. AFI is quickly becoming on the level of opposite-coast Goth rockers My Chemical Romance, yet as My Chem announced an arena date in Columbus, AFI (A Fire Inside) took the booking at the small venue and played a show just as if they were playing in an the arena.

 

After Davey Havok strolled on the all-white stage with all-white gear and with a bright spot making Havok's silhouette the contrasting balance, the Bay area singer sauntered up to his light box located into front-center of the stage and eloquently broke into the Prelude just before the band then broke into Girl's Not Grey off the 2003 release Sing The Sorrow. Since that release, AFI took nearly three years before releasing Decemberunderground in 2006. Since then, the band has exploded into the youth market in a way that makes even Hot Topic jealous, and in return, has brought together a mixture of fans enjoying the show to the fullest extent. So when the next song was Kill Caustic, it just proved the point, as although kids were dancing to Girls, the voices were not really heard until Kill Caustic was blared into the ears of the youth.

 

The crowd was a definite majority of new fans, which meant a bombast of discussion during and definitely after the show (just look at the band's forum) about who has been a fan the longest. AFI is in a strange position of becoming popular and having its dedicated fans revolt against that success. And much to AFI's credit, the band as a whole seems to ignore the discussion of whether the band is "selling out" to corporate radio and remains focused on the music it produces.

 

But for the entire Decemberunderground tour, AFI is selling out show after show, but only a few people can truthfully answer whether the band went in a direction that was not inherent and natural, and a vast majority of those in the know seem to be dedicated to the music which made AFI a household name in middle schools across the country.

 

Since 1997, AFI has been producing records that brought on a groundswell of loyal outcast fans, and it is easy to understand that the success of AFI eight years later after switching to major label Interscope can be deemed as an act related to that of Benedict Arnold. For when Malleus Maleficarum from the 1999 release Black Sails In The Sunset was played halfway through the set, it was time for those diehards from long ago to spread their wings and shine like music angels in the white light and glare that predominately made up the Newport stage.

 

So as the debate rambles on through the band's forum and in school hallways across the country as to when each person at the show actually became an AFI fan and if it was early enough to actually be considered a "fan," AFI continues to do what they have done since 1997, put on great live shows and provide an outlet for those who feel or want to feel like an outcast. AFI, since the early days, has dressed with as much make-up as the pop-stars of the time, and wore clothes even tighter. It just so happens, as with all trends started on the art and outcast community, that the trend caught up to middle America and become common. So to blame a band that has not really stepped away from that trend seems a bit odd. However, maybe what the true fans were looking for is outward growth from the band, both visually and musically, and there they may have an argument that AFI had remained stoic, possibly too stoic, in its music.

 

It seems AFI hasn't changed since the early days of playing tiny clubs to tinier audiences. The music is still dark, orchestral and bittersweet. The look is still Goth. Only now, those have become marketing tools for other bands, and only time will tell whether AFI stays marketing poster children or if the band does what they did so well in 1997, and that is diverge from the normal and challenge the status quo. But for now, AFI is on top of its game in the genre it helped define. So to all the parents who brought their kids to the Newport congratulations, everyone lived to tell the tale. The show is over and now all that is left is for your kids to debate their truthfulness to the band. But rest assured, AFI has always been truthful to the kids.

Jade Puget
Davey Havok
Davey Havok
Hunter Burgan
Davey Havok
Adam Carson