AFI returned to San Diego for the fifth time in eight months, playing at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre (what a mouthful that is) and brought Circa Survive and Citizen with them. I’ve seen AFI play many times, and had the luck of seeing Citizen several times on Warped Tour 2015 when I was on the road with one of the tour’s sponsors. On the other hand, I’d never seen Circa Survive before and their performance left me highly unimpressed.
Citizen played a quick eight song, 30-minute set including two tracks from their upcoming release As You Please, as well as selections from Everybody Is Going to Heaven (2015) and Youth (2013). Though the set was enjoyable, the mix was a tad bass heavy and there was nothing to really make their performance stand out on this occasion.
When it came to the co-headlining performance of Circa Survive, I must say it was disappointing. Though the band played at least one song from each of their six full length releases, including their upcoming album The Amulet, aside from having an hour long set they were essentially another support act. Less than half of the crowd got up out of their seats to stand and sing along, and the band was set up in the same space Citizen had been given, without even having a drum riser for drummer Steve Clifford.
As soon as the beginning of AFI’s intro for the night, “Miseria Cantare”, began, everyone was up and out of their seats. The vibe was entirely different – you could tell that the crowd was much more excited for the true headliner of the night.
I’m a big fan of seeing shows outdoors, yet this was only the second time I’d seen AFI headline an outdoor show. To be honest, though the set was a tad on the short side for AFI (15 songs instead of their standard 17), it was the best sounding mix I’ve heard for them. Hunter Burgan’s bass was powerful, yet not muddy, Adam Carson’s kit and cymbals were punchy but well defined, Davey Havok’s vocals were clear and consistent, and Jade’s guitar sat just right in the mix.
With cuts from their six most recent albums, AFI provided a good variety though the lack of anything from their first four albums was noticeable – many other shows on the tour did have at least one or two songs from the first four records. Additionally, AFI stepped up their production from their winter tour adding more lighting including three large triangle shaped trusses containing various lamps and fixtures.
Highlights of the night included “37mm” being played for the fourth time ever and the first song of the encore, “This Time Imperfect” which is always a fan favorite. Though I may be biased, as AFI is one of my favorite bands, I do think that this is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them put on.
Overall, this was a great package to see. If you’re near one of the handful of remaining shows on this tour, go check it out!
Photo by Fabio Banin.