AFI turns up the love, down the dispair in St. Louis (11/4)

Almost as if to tell their Hot Topic loving fanbase to suck it, Davey Havok, the lead singer of AFI, has faded away from the makeup and turned up the screams. On a cool Wednesday night in St. Louis, MO, the band showed up looking more like the early to mid-thirties rockers they are, and much less like the mostly younger crowd they drew in.

The band’s vociferous fanbase, however, was not to be deterred, as they sang along with every word and bounced to many of the band’s songs (both new and old). Though older tracks “6 to 8″ and “Ny-Quil” had the crowd in its greatest frenzy, new songs off Crash Love, the band’s recently released LP, brought a good amount of dancing to the stage and crowd (despite being much weaker sounding tracks in the bands deep catalog). The four-piece’s songs have begun to sound less like dark dreary sorrow and more like the kind of love you’re not supposed to make music about.

Unfortunately, while these newer tracks were certainly fun, they just didn’t pack the immense bass lines of Hunter Burgan or the scorching guitar parts of Jade Puget. Drummer Adam Carson seemed almost pushed to the sidelines in exchange for computerized beats and pop break downs.

Early in the set, tracks off of Sing the Sorrow, the band’s platinum breakout, got everyone in the spirit with a rendition of “Girl’s Not Grey” and hardcore dancer anthem “The Leaving Song, Pt. 2″. Havok emerged looking more like a younger Perry Farrell and less like one of the girls from The Craft (as he has in the past). Overall, however, the crowd’s heavy momentum would push the band through the fairly short set (coming in at just over an hour long).

But, in the end, the real showcase of the night turned out to be openers, Gallows. It was quite a shock to walk into the mostly filled 2,000 person capacity Pageant, and see a band playing with no lead singer in sight (though one could obviously hear someone talking as well as singing). With a little bit of investigation, however, it could be discovered that the lead singer, Englishman Frank Carter, was directly in the middle of a frantic circle pit that encompassed most of the floor.

The band ran through songs featured on 2009’s Grey Britain, and did a suitable job filling the heavy slot AFI normally carries on the bill. The Brit punks sang songs for “the druggies, rehabbing druggies, and straight edge kids,” stating that it didn’t matter except that they were all enjoying themselves in the moment of the night. Carter also spent a fair amount of time promoting himself as a casanova, handing a broken microphone off to a woman he had chosen out of the crowd, as well as helping a specific gentleman by promoting anal sex.

All in all, the show provided many entertaining moments. If you get the chance, check out Gallows and leave the sorrow of old AFI to the albums themselves.

Torch Song
Girl’s Not Grey
The Leaving Song, Pt. 2
Too Shy to Scream
Ever and a Day
Kill Caustic
End Transmission
Beautiful Thieves
Dancing Through Sunday
Cold Hands
The Leaving Song
On the Arrow
Death of Seasonz
Love Like Winter

6 to 8
Miss Murder
Silver and Cold


The Mars Volta get sick in Memphis (10/19)

Few bands on this earth are capable of putting on a show on par withThe Mars Volta. No matter how you look at the band’s elongated jams and nonsensical lyrics, they do put 110% into their show, and that’s precisely what they did at Minglewood Hall in Memphis, TN last night. On a Monday, no less.

Despite a nagging sickness, an ailment that lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala made clearly evident of early in the night (noting that he would be expelling “large amounts of bodily fluids” and a promise that a few in the front row might be going home with more than their concert tickets), the lead singer leaped, danced, and hit notes higher than previously recorded on the band’s five albums. It almost begged the question, “How do I get this sickness?”

With a few nights off, due to their recent cancellation in Cincinnati, the rest of the band didn’t miss a beat — at least for a Volta show. Drummer Thomas Pridgen hit the drums so hard that he frequently floated over his drum seat, while Omar Rodriguez-Lopez soloed like a dazed madman, forcing Bixler-Zavala to frequently look at him, and then back out to the crowd, as if to say, “Are you guys seeing this shit!”

Naturally, fans new and old would be pleased, and the band treated both alike, running through several tracks off ofDeloused in the Comatorium all the way through to this year’s, Octahedron.  Opener “Inertiatic ESP” sounded pristine, highlighting every performer that brought it to life. “Goliath” took off next, sounding as large and ominous as its title. Drummer Pridgen furiously beat away at the drums with forceful fills and a beat that couldn’t be stopped. He’s worth the price of admission alone. “Eunuch Provocateur” showed off the skills of bass player Juan Alderete, who is frequently overshadowed by band mates.

Latin freak-out “Ilyena” shook several in the crowd out of their glazed stupor, thanks to keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens pounding and intoxicating rhythms, rocking out as hard as a keyboard player can. Though it’s exciting to hear live, it’s time for Frances the Mute single “The Widow” to go… for good. Taking a short break before the song, Bixler-Zavala came out and hit every note, but it pales in comparison to the rest of the set, coming off rather stale and without the intense passion that any other song carries. Luckily, hard rocking “Wax Simulcra”, though short, gave the band one last chance to prove that they probably could have kept going for another hour or two.

The short hour-and-a-half setlist did however leave several in the crowd wondering what happened to the band that used to play marathon two and a half to three hour sets without a pause. Though there are few bands that could please a Mars Volta crowd (Portugal. The Man perhaps?), for $35 dollars, it may be time for someone else to step in — at least, as long as the band intends on playing a shorter set. Still, it’s one intense event. No, few left the small club grumbling; however, faces were melted, souls were shaken, and grossly… many bodily fluids were drained. It just all seemed less a journey and moreover a short, quick trip.