Review: AFI and The Chain Gang of 1974 @ The Danforth Music Hall – Toronto

“Through our bleeding, we are one”: that’s what AFI fans were chanting in anticipation of the band’s set, February first at the Danforth. AFI was last in town in 2014, to celebrate the release of Burials. The Blood Album – the band’s tenth, 2017 release – is thematically cohesive aesthetically and lyrically. There are four limited edition versions of the album, each with album artwork configured to to match the four blood types, AB, O, B, and A. The lyrics of the opening track, “Dark Snow” make mention of blood (“For someone who stayed young by bleeding light”) as do the lyrics of the closing track, “The Wind that Carries me Away” (“And the blood runs / Faster than we can.”).

This blood theme bled into the theatrics of their live show; that is, the band was often bathed in red light as they played songs from The Blood Album (“Aurelia,” “Dumb Kids,” and “Snow Cats”). During “I Hope You Suffer,” black and white images of bloodied hands shaking were projected onto the stage’s backdrop and the audience hollered “I hope you suffer” back at Davey Havok, who then dove into – and who was held up by –his pool of adoring fans. Some were grabbing desperately at him, pulling at his pant legs. Davey relented at the end of the song, holding the microphone down for one dude to sing the last line of the song, “I hope you, I hope you do.” Davey then hopped back on stage and high-fived the drummer, who was wiping sweat off of his face and rolling up the sleeves of his t-shirt. On the back of Davey’s black, studded vest was the word BLOOD, lengthwise in angled font.

Midway through the set, poetically placed between the new “Snow Cats” and the classic “Miss Murder,” Davey yelled, “26 fucking years!” (AFI became a band in 1991), and was met with mad cheers from everyone at The Danforth. The lights transitioned from red to blue – apt for a Decemberunderground song – and crowd surfers began tumbling towards the stage at twice their previous speed, while those in their mid-twenties (myself and friends included) tumbled through Decemberunderground, 2006, high school nostalgia.

The set, in its entirety, was a mix of songs from 2000 onwards. Rarely were two songs from the same album payed back-to-back, save for the Sing the Sorrow encore: “Leaving Song 1” and “Girls Not Grey.” It would have been fitting, at that point, if the crowd finished their “Through our bleeding, we are one” chant with the second line, “Through the darkness breaks the light” as the lights flipped on and the Danforth emptied out.


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Review by Leah Edwards

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