AFI / Nothing / Souvenirs - live in Boston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

AFI / Nothing / Souvenirs

live in Boston (2017)

live show

AFI only embark on headline tours every few years at this point, but when they do they can be counted on to bring out solid openers. The Blood Tour, in support of their new self-titled LP (parenthesized The Blood Album), is no exception, with the current chiefs of ‘90s-style alt-rock/shoegaze/grunge Nothing here, and the great, unheralded Souvenirs, from Carpinteria, California, roughly 500 miles south of AFI’s original HQ in Ukiah.

AFI sold out this venue, the 933-cap Paradise Rock Club, well in advance, so Souvenirs were certainly playing to a completely fresh audience. Plus, it was only their second show in Boston ever despite having formed six years ago. While not quite getting wild accolades, they seemed to go over well enough with the crowd, which makes sense; if one bends their ears the right way, there are...sort of...similarities between them and the headliners.

More so, though, they’ve transitioned from a great emo rock band (think the earlier period of their CA neighbors Seahaven) on early EPs and 2014’s You, Fear and Me, to more of a synth-accompanied, gentler indie act on their new album, Posture of Apology, with dream pop and emo influences, more like pre-Transatlanticism Death Cab for Cutie and, especially at times, Turnover’s Peripheral Vision. The set leaned heavily on their new album, naturally, with a couple highlights from the full-length debut, including the Smiths-y “A Mile High”, and “Gradient”, which the band completed with a really solid breakdown as their performance started to kick things into another gear. The sound seemed a little muddled and the vocals a bit buried in the mix, and the live set of course lacked from Posture of Apology’s sparkle and polish, as well as its electronic elements. But the set was nonetheless proficient and certainly enjoyable, amended by a mood-setting audio film clip before “Net Worth”. They harkened back to their rawer emo roots on closer “4th and Holly”, with singer/guitarist Tim Riley looking and sounding especially desperate as he cried “Please forgive me!” as his band pounded through one last breakdown.

Set list (7:29-7:54):

  1. Roman Candle

  2. You Affect Me


  3. Gradient

  4. A Mile High

  5. Net Worth


  6. Linden Ave.

  7. 4th and Holly

Despite their obvious sonic differences and influences, Nothing is an alternative band with a macabre flair just like their headliners, and they made a lot of sense as direct support in that context. I’ve seen them a couple times over the past few years on various tours, and this was one of their better sets of that, if not right at the top. It was atmospheric and generally mesmerizing, and full of highlights. They started with the uplifting mood-setter “Hymn of Pillory” from 2014’s Guilty of Everything, and then played both tracks off their split EP with Whirr. Those two songs have seemingly become staples, which is great as they’ve held up real well since dropping a few years ago. After “July the Fourth”, their great banter got the audience going when singer/guitarist Nicky Money compared his loose microphone boom arm to a “flaccid penis swinging in [his] face.” He also went into the crowd during “Eaten by Worms”, but the timing was weird; as he ventured down onto the floor, two men were being escorted out by security just 20 feet away, so the audience’s attention was fully split. It was seemingly an unwitting coincidence on Nicky’s part. Later on, after “ACD (Absessive Compulsive Disorder)”, he simply reintroduced the band one last time as Sheer Terror. “B&E” was a wonderfully pulverizing closer, finishing things in an enjoyably cacophonous way (even if it was a little messy and off time).

Set list (8:15-8:57):

  1. Hymn to the Pillory


  2. Chloroform

  3. July the Fourth


  4. Vertigo Flowers


  5. Eaten by Worms


  6. ACD (Absessive Compulsive Disorder)


  7. Get Well

  8. B&E

AFI certainly still bring it live, and this set in a somewhat intimate venue for them felt appropriately stripped back and a little bit raw, complementing it well. They played well, had wonderful energy throughout the set, and they weren’t too bombastic, besides the ominous, epic intro music on the PA, which coincided with the crowd’s predictable cheers of the “Strength Through Wounding” mantra-cum-fan motto “Through our bleeding, we are one!” And, well, maybe when Davey Havok did his nightly ritual of walking out into the crowd and remaining held up fully vertical for most of “I Hope You Suffer”.

For the most part it was just a fair overview of the band’s catalog from over the last 17 years (nothing off Black Sails in the Sunset or prior, unfortunately), even throwing in the rarer cut “Now the World”. Despite the band’s macabre nature, there wasn’t anything too dark or serious about the set, even. They brought out a cake and sang happy birthday to their long-time crew guy Fritch before “End Transmission”. And frankly, “This Celluloid Dream” was just a fun set opener. Bigger singles like “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Miss Murder” got some pogoing reactions, and songs from all over the map even spurred some crowd-climbing. New cuts like “Aurelia” and “Snow Cats” had a decent reaction; no one seemed to poo-poo them at least. “The Days of the Phoenix” was an awesome, semi-surprising inclusion, and the band even came out for a second encore with no plan of what to play, granting a fan request of “Morningstar”.

Set list (9:26-10:27):

  1. This Celluloid Dream

  2. 17 Crimes

  3. Aurelia


  4. Veronica Sawyer Smokes

  5. Girl’s Not Grey

  6. The Conductor

  7. The Leaving Song Pt. 2


  8. Now the World


  9. Dumb Kids


  10. End Transmission

  11. This Time Imperfect

  12. The Days of the Phoenix


  13. I Hope You Suffer

  14. Snow Cats

  15. Miss Murder

    Encore 1 (10:27-10:35):

  16. The Leaving Song

  17. Silver and Cold

    Encore 2 (10:38-10:42):

  18. Morningstar