Photographs by Sean Chin.
It was unfortunately still pretty sparse when AFI took to the Air Canada Centre stage at 6:30 pm on a Sunday evening. The band – opening a triple-header that included Thirty Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park – had an uphill battle of getting the enthusiasm up amongst the dedicated fans in for a long night of alt-rock.
Audience reception to AFI’s energetic and aggressive sound was surprisingly tepid on opening numbers “The Leaving Song Pt. II” and Sing the Sorrow (2003) single “Girl’s Not Grey”, though things did pick up as the California four-piece continued to plug away at it – no doubt spurred on by vocalist Davey Havok’s stage presence, repeatedly getting into the crowd to up the energy.
The band behind him were strong as well: guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter Burgan leading “Medicate”, off of 2009’s Crash Love, and drummer Adam Carson carrying “Love Like Winter”.
“Miss Murder” was an easy crowd favourite, but older single “Silver and Cold” (another from 2003’s Sing the Sorrow) sounded more of a struggle and proving Havok’s vocal timbre has certainly shifted over the years. Where he once favoured a more nasal quality, newer material (including 2006’s “Miss Murder”) seemed more comfortable – allowing Havok to belt it out more and use his full force on a rather impressive set of lungs.
It was a truncated 35-minute set for a band with a much deeper back catalogue. By the end of it, Havok had thankfully found pockets of fans littered throughout the venue. He and the band played to them well. By the sounds of things, they also managed to convert some curious early birds into new ones. It was worth getting there early for – if only for the energetic show alone.