For Fans Of:Tiger Army, Alkaline Trio, Cancer Bats
Download This Now:“Torch Song” (AFI), “Orchestra of Wolves” (Gallows)
Commanding a staying power in the music industry for nearly two decades is incredible. Being able to stay relevant in that ever-changing, continuously commercialized industry is just pure swagger.
AFI (A Fire Inside, in case you were wondering) brought their signature swag to the Electric Factory (421 N. 7th St.) on Nov. 12 while English punk rock band Gallowstagged along for the ride.
Perhaps AFI was thinking of all those fans that have been with them since day one when they accepted Gallows bid for this tour. The band circa The Art of Drowningera could have easily been the influence for Gallows’ raw, in your face style.
If you haven’t heard by now, vocalist Frank Carter is a bit of a nut, in the absolutely craziest and best way possible. After an unusually meek opening with “London is the Reason” from their latest album, Grey Britain, Gallows gave their fans what they wanted—they took it to the next level.
I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone when the man who got tattooed on stage during a show a few years back ditched his perfect, little mic stand center stage and took to the floor to play in the middle of the mosh pit he orchestrated.
There is no doubt that Gallows puts on one hell of a show and they would probably rage against anyone labeling them as entertainers, but they are!
Aside from beautifully arranged songs that would burn your eyes out (if notes could simply do such a thing) and disgustingly good talent from the rest of the band (guitarists Laurent Barnard and Steph Carter, Stuart Gili-Ross on bass and Lee Barratt on drums), the things that came out of Frank Carter’s mouth would shock you to your core if you didn’t die laughing first.
Every Gallows show is different and the one in Philly could definitely be filed under “you had to be there.” But for those who weren’t, imagine the raunchy hilarity of closing tune “Orchestra of Wolves” in conversation and you’ve got the banter for the night.
Unfortunately, Carter’s acid tongue wasn’t enough to save his health and due to illness and a major upcoming tour abroad, Gallows had to drop off of the last couple of shows on the AFI tour.
All in all, Gallows was a great band to open for AFI. Carter’s mid-floor performance spot may have been frustrating for those hidden by the arms of the crowd around them, but artistically, the decision was genius.
The day before, AFI did a signing at Main Street Music (4444 Main St.) for 100+ fans who braved the rain and cold and bought Crash Love at the Manayunk record store; this Electric Factory show was to be the piece de resistance.
AFI filtered onto the stage with “Torch Song,” the first track from their fall release, Crash Love. What has always been great about this band is their ability to insight a riot of the intellect. Numerous songs contain backing tracks of crowd vocals rip-roaring and organized to ignite the fire that comes with being united by a common purpose (“Through our bleeding we are one” anyone?) Not as thematic as previous first tracks, “Miseria Cantare” or “Prelude 12/21,” “Torch Song” still contains that anticipation factor of the formers that hits a fever pitch with guitarist Jade Puget’s chords.
After the proverbial smoke cleared from that one, I noticed how bizarrely contained singer Davey Havock was inside his gold suit. It was almost as if all his usual passion was trying to break free from under this corporate uniform, however glittery. Maybe we’re all missing some metaphor here, but honestly, it was painful to watch. I let out a huge sigh once the jacket came off.
But you know what they say: wardrobes come and go but set lists are forever.
While I experienced personal satisfaction over the fact that AFI played all the songs I wanted to hear from Crash Love (“Torch Song,” “Beautiful Thieves,” “End Transmission”), I was blown away by the fact that the band played more songs from their 2003 release Sing the Sorrow then the new disc. “Ok, I Feel Better Now,” a new song, was even given the boot for “The Missing Frame,” a track from 2006’s Decemberunderground(so said the set list).
Choosing to play “Death of Seasons,” “Dancing Through Sunday” and the mellow “Leaving Song Part I” as part of the Sorrowdomination were good decisions, and to their credit, the band did eventually take it back to the 90s with “Triple Zero” and “6 to 8.” But playing those songs in place of classic fan favorites like “Days of the Phoenix” or “God Called in Sick Today” was, in a word, disappointing. However, one set choice surprised everyone when Havok intro-ed a song with, “This is from 1986. If you know this, I love you,” and the tune turned out to be D.C. punk band Dag Nasty’s “Values Here.” Thank God “Silver and Cold” made the finale because I’m convinced there would have been a riot of a different kind if that song was simply omitted from the live show (for what reason I couldn’t even fathom).
Aesthetics and fan-of-the-old-school bias aside, very few bands out today can match the energy and heart that AFI brings to the stage. Havok’s unique range and trademark “Oh!” make him an icon and Puget’s string work is to die for. These are the things you cling to while watching your favorite punk band deliver an alternative rock performance, and kill it.
In the end, I just wish AFI had given more support to the album they were touring in support of so that I would be fully on the bandwagon with Crash Loveinstead of just running pace with the coach with one hand tethered. However, I do have the intro of “Torch Song” as my ringtone; I can see myself hoping aboard sooner rather than later.
You can contact Cara Donaldson at email@example.com