AFI: live in New Yorklive in New York (2006)
Universal Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: LeadMySkepticLeadMySkeptic
(others by this writer | submit your own)

One of the first major reappearances of punk mainstays AFI after their brief but sudden absence from the limelight is also one that seems unusual for them: a middle of the day, televised shindig held at a Times Square venue to a closed audience. The spring sunshine is certainly no place for goths.

One of the first major reappearances of punk mainstays AFI after their brief but sudden absence from the limelight is also one that seems unusual for them: a middle of the day, televised shindig held at a Times Square venue to a closed audience.

The spring sunshine is certainly no place for goths to be hanging about, but strangely enough, even at 3:30 P.M., the dimly lit pseudo-elegance of the Nokia Theater became a prime setting for the dark theatrics of the boys of A Fire Inside. The lucky and rabid few that managed to secure a spot packed into the building, expecting a preview of the new album and an eagerly anticipated band appearance and interview with MTV, but little did they know -- those sneaky Bay-area bastards -- were also planning to rock their faces off with an impromptu set.

As I strolled into the theater to the strains of a new AFI tune, a less than personable staff member pointed me towards one of the only remaining seats -- in the corner of the back area, behind a generator of some sort, obscuring my view of anything that might actually go down. Not one to get flustered, I settled into my seat and tuned into the music pouring from the speakers.

AFI, like many great bands before them, have stayed relevant by continually reinventing themselves over their albums. They famously modified their hardcore punk roots to explore more gothic textures upon the entrance of guitarist Jade Puget; 2003's Sing the Sorrow found them sharpening that style into a radio-ready weapon. Judging by what I heard of the new album, they have subtly dulled both of those styles in favor of straight-ahead, albeit image-driven, pop music. The lead single for the upcoming Decemberunderground, "Miss Murder," has an irresistible Depeche Mode-style bounce to it, but hearing it one has to wonder if the recent dance-rock craze has had an effect on the type of songs the band has been penning. In the freshly premiered video clip, clutching black rabbits and leading imaginary fascist armies, Davey Havok almost seemed to have become a parody of himself, and the televised format of the goings-on also led to the band being painted in a somewhat silly light.

In fact, the first half of the event was (perhaps as a result of it being an MTV-sponsored event) decidedly TRL-esque. Teenage girls screeched at anything and everything, security staff all but beat down fans moving simply to get a better view, and the band rambled awkwardly in response to less than stellar interviewing by Damien Fahey (sample question: "So...what's up with the bunnies?"). The kids don't want your rabbit symbolism for inner turmoil, Mr. Havok, they just want to rock.

When the cameras and the band were swiftly whisked from the room and the seated portion of the audience was slowly summoned to the floor, it seemed as though they were about to get their wish. As the curtain parted, and the thunderous, primal percussion of "Miseria Cantare" flooded the room, any previous doubts I was having were immediately vaporized. The band is a force to be reckoned with on stage. Like the unholy offspring of Robert Smith and Trent Reznor, Havok's stage persona is simultaneously feminine, wounded, and menacing. "As we all form one dark flame," he intoned, arms spread crucifixion style over his legion of followers, an anti-Christ in mascara.

The crowd never quite managed to form one dark flame, however; at worst, they were more like several stagnant sparks. The room did noticeably pick up steam towards the end of the all-too-brief set, upon the unveiling of former radio staples "Silver and Cold" and "Girl's Not Grey," which was a welcome change. AFI have a satisfying way of making you feel like the songs are just as much yours as they are theirs; the microphone is pointed outwards almost as much as it is towards Havok. The audience slowly molds into the 5th member of the group, and the result is a pleasing, if temporary, unity.

The band's energy remained rampant throughout, reaching a fever pitch during the closing encore "God Called in Sick Today," as Davey actually stepped out onto the crowd's hands as part of his performance. His balance only lasted for so long, but as he fell unexpectedly into the sea of fans, their voices suddenly became the lead instrument, and the result was a magical authenticity that could never have been planned. He soon, of course, returned to the stage to join his bandmates. Next thing I knew, the set was over; the band had vanished as quickly as they had appeared, and the house lights were up. It was time to go home. I wanted more; I hadn't yet got my head around where the band was going, what they were trying to do, but yet the hit and run had left me with a pleasing sort of a buzz. Let me tell you, it was more than enough. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma'am.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
jamesthompson23 (April 27, 2009)

AFI is the shit. Classic AFI, the new AFI, I love them both.

Anonymous (June 11, 2006)

That show was amazing. A moment before they finished, I was tapped on the shoulder by event staff. They asked me a few questions and told me when AFI finishes, to go stand near this door. At the time it was 5:30 and my uncle was ready to catch the boat to Jersey. Since I was staying with him that night and the fact that he doesnt take to much shit, I thought it would be best to leave and not piss him off while he was waiting at the corner of 40th street. I still wonder what could have happened if I had stayed. It probably would have been worth a kick in the ass.

Anonymous (May 20, 2006)

Hahaha, all those pseudo music connoisseurs who say AFI only had two good albums honestly make me laugh. Quite frankly, punk is dead and has been dead for years; move the fuck on. That said, if AFI was doing the same thing they were doing 14 years ago, they'd have become stagnant a looong time ago, and all you fuckers would be screaming a different tune: "They sound the same as they used to! This band sucks!"

In closing, AFI can't please everyone. They have just happened to be pleasing thousands of loyal fans album after album, and new fans with each release. That says something. These boys are true artists, true pioneers of their music, and they deserve kudos and praise for all the hard work they've put in.

Fucking AFI for life, bitches.

Anonymous (May 20, 2006)

This was actually very poorly written. I can't tell if you like/ hate the album or like/hate AFI. How about, instead of using those flowery journalism taught-techniques that can be spotted a mile away and using words you don't seem to be too familiar with, you actually write what you experienced and felt. I'm sure it would go down a lot better.

Anonymous (May 20, 2006)

alright, first off you diss the guys a bit. you diss the video a bit and you touch apon their personal style. Since this is a review, you are allowed to do that and I'm not going to attack you for it. You have your own beliefs, and thats why you wrote this review.

I must say I'm pleased that you gave into it at the end. YOU LOVED IT and you know it!!!

also, this was very well written. good job.

you better get this album!

Anonymous (May 18, 2006)

I've been an a.f.i fan for a long time and i was really excited when i heard that they were going to release a new album. Unfortunately i'm not the biggest fan of their 'new' sound. It will take me a while to get used to it... at least i hope i get used to it. I have to say there older stuff is way better.

Anonymous (May 16, 2006)

an anti-christ in mascara? i'm going to vomit. davey havok is a fem.

damdom (May 16, 2006)

this album definetly lacked originality

Anonymous (May 15, 2006)

I was there and the show fucking rocked. MTV sucks, this is not news; using their own tools against them is genius in this climate of computer-generated song algorithms and corporate radio payola.

Anonymous (May 15, 2006)

"an anti-Christ in mascara"

you actually wrote that. how does that feel?


I'm not an idiot. dont put bunnies on your album and act like you have a secret.

Not nice.

If the wizard of oz had bunnies behind the curtain, dorothy would have flying monkey fucked the man into the tehcnicolor changing horse's droppings.

robert smith himself couldn't get away with bunnies.

Morrissey couldn't get away with bunnies. Gerbils, yes. Bunnies, no. Honey Badgers, he should actually probably go for.


Anonymous (May 14, 2006)

very well written. i was there as well and had a great time! unfortunately people have come here bashing AFI, to those of you who will always stand by them through their changes and growth,decemberunderground is amazing and i am sure you will be pleased, as i was.

Anonymous (May 14, 2006)

I really hope they play some stuff off Black Sails in the Sunset BESIDES god called in sick today. and Some stuff off art of drowning/all hallows e.p. hell some shut your mouth and open your eyes would be cool too. cuz im goin see them at warped this summer. and i better not be fucking disappointed. i love their old stuff. but sing the sorrow blew. majorly. i liked it when i was like, 12. the new song, sounds ok, i like it, not as much as their older stuff, but more than anything off sing the sorrow. hopefully the album will be good.

Anonymous (May 14, 2006)

I was there and it was an amazing show. Everyone around me was very into, and like the review states, that really completes the show. The presence of TRL and MTV didn't really have an affect on the experience for me, I had a good time regardless. The title suits the album perfectly and I can't wait to hear it again.

grantino (May 14, 2006)

i remember when this band had decent albums ie very proud of ya and answer that and stay fashionable...

davey havok looks like at 15 year old girl who just got a shopping spree at hot topic...tsk tsk.

Anonymous (May 13, 2006)

Excellent review.
Mr. Kenzington

AndyOutbreak (May 13, 2006)

Great Review! !

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

This band has always sucked. Always. Yes, I said always.

GreenVandal (May 12, 2006)

I concur with Dante. It is really hard to give a fuck about this band anymore. They used to be one of my favs.

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

I was there. The set was really lame, nothing but their STS radio hits, one track from AoD, Miss Murder, that MySpace song and God Called in Sick Today.

Ummm band, some of us have been listening to you longer than 3 years. How about a little something for us?

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

You are pretty dumb for going to this event. MTV corrupts society and ruins little girls and boys way of thinking for themselves. Everything they see on MTV is what they want which is just wrong. And AFI only has two good albums, their first two, but damn wake up call is one of the best punk rock songs I have ever heard, it is simply amazing.

clamum (May 12, 2006)

Nice review.

Etienne (May 12, 2006)

Went to the Toronto Listening Party which they also played. The new CD sounded like another big progression with much more electronic stuff. I didn't catch the "hardcore" vibes, which they claimed would make a reappearance on the CD, all that much. The live set was pretty energetic and the band seemed like they were truely having fun. Sadly, they did not play anything pre-AOD.

Dante3000 (May 12, 2006)

I can't explain it but the positive reviews of AFI's recent shows make me even less excited about their new work.
Maybe I just wouldn't be into any of their music (new or old) at my current place in life or maybe I think I'm just too cool now. But it just seems like everything I read about them intrests me less and less.

lookmommyididit (May 12, 2006)

great review, the set was solid even though it was short. i wanted to kill maybe 80% of the kids there. definetely worth missing school though.

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

what a day to miss school, fun day

threechordsandthetruth (May 12, 2006)

"The crowd never quite managed to form one dark flame, however; at worst, they were more like several stagnant sparks."

hahahah, genius.

So when you buy the new record, you get a special photo of one of the 4 band members, like the art on the new video/website. This is probably the lamest thing I ever heard, since I remember Adam saying in interviews that they don't like doing individual photoshoots.

Here are the images you'll get:

Since94 (May 12, 2006)

AFI showed up and played about 7 songs at the Decemberunderground listening party last night in Toronto.....Those who missed out on the free show are suckasssss

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

"Dear AFI,
Marilyn Mason already did that,


moneenerd (May 12, 2006)

Dear AFI:
Marilyn Manson already did all that.

TheOneTrueBill (May 12, 2006)

So wait a minute, decemberunderground leaked?

also, this was really well written. Write something for every show you go to from now on. Happen to remember a set list?

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

ha ha dancerock. seriously posers who used to say they liked punk and emo and now the sheep all listen to dance rock. these kids love weird danceable alternative hipster music. they think they are so underground, they think they are so so cool. they have completly abandonded what they used to like for the next trend, followers i tell you, followers.

jamespastepunk (May 12, 2006)

Decemberunderground is pretty nice. They aren't lying when they say it sounds like winter.

Anonymous (May 12, 2006)

Yeah, really good writing here.

InaGreendase (May 12, 2006)

This review is fucking fantastically well-written. Kudos.

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