AFI and the DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN at Kool Haus, June 15. Tickets: $27.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Things have certainly progressed nicely for AFI since the last time I saw them play the Kool Haus . Back then - 11 years ago - they were just a wee band in their infancy, indistinguishable from countless others, with their generic aggro SoCal punk sound.
Now, instead of being nameless openers, AFI have a healthy-sized army of near-rabid fans more than willing to shout and sing along in unison with their current crush/hero, front man Davey Havok .
Too bad the crowd didn't give all their earnest and unbridled attention to long-time metalcore champs Dillinger Escape Plan . That band's been a non-stop touring machine for years now, and you'd better believe it shows.
Pummelling through all the frenzied mayhem and ADD-riddled time changes, breakdowns and general insanity of their music, the band and, more specifically, the very intimidating singer/screamer Greg Puciato , didn't let the crowd's indifference keep them from putting on a remarkably entertaining show; it looked like it actually encouraged them. By their last song, Sunshine The Werewolf, you either loved 'em or hated 'em.
It was obvious who everyone from the drunk jocks at the back to the sensitive emo-goths, young'uns and old-fashioned punks were there to see. Unfortunately, as soon as the elaborate stage lights illuminated Havok alone onstage as he began with Prelude 12/21, it was clear that something wasn't working with the sound system. And if your sound sucks, it's almost a given that all the romantic rock 'n' roll mystique of your show gets flushed right down the drain.
And, yes, while the Kool Haus can be abysmal for live sound, this night's was inexcusable. Fortunately, AFI have the performance part down pat, drawing attention to themselves with all their guitar-slinging moves, high jumps and general energy. Leaning heavily on material from 2003's Sing The Sorrow, like The Leaving Song and Girl's Not Grey, the black-clad punks also dipped back into several older albums while rarely risking any new material - a shame, since it's some of their best.
Havok is a magnetic performer who could probably lead a good chunk of his fans over a cliff if he chose. This night he opted for just screaming and wailing through a greatest-hits package.
They'll obviously come back soon, and if they can work out the kinks it should be a fantastic show .