AFI is on the tail-end of their fall tour in support of their latest release ‘Bodies’ that dropped last year. The tour dates were originally scheduled for this past spring with openers Cold Cave, but postponed due to the contagious Omicron variant. The Bay Area band made its long-awaited hometown appearance at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA pre-Thanksgiving Eve after three long years since they were last in the area as part of the bill opening for The Smashing Pumpkins at Shoreline Amphitheater in 2019. With an eager and diverse crowd that had the venue pretty much filled up by the time openers Drab Majesty concluded their set, AFI put on an interactive show filled with many of their earlier works that had many in the crowd expressing surprise to one another. The tone for the night was one of a good balance of nostalgia that kicked off with “Strength Through Wounding” from ‘Black Sails in the Sunset’ as lead singer Davey Havok took to the stage and led the chant of “Through our bleeding, we are one”. It was a unified moment that had everyone fist-pumping and led into “Girls Not Grey” that had everyone on their feet dancing, moshing and screaming the lyrics as a few audience members were seen crowd surfing throughout the song. The set continued ablaze as the band went into “Love Like Winter” and had everyone both on the floor and in the balcony jumping and singing. There was no mistaking the crowd for being loyal longtime fans as they were just as enthuastic and active during songs like “Begging for Trouble” as they were for “Wester”.
Havok was animated and his vocals were just as strong as ever, leaping into the crowd during “I Hope You Suffer” and stood atop the mosh pit, being held up by audience members throughout a good portion of the song. He also took a moment to acknowledge their roots at the legendary Gilman up the road in Berkeley and how they first played there around 1995 and launched into “Perfect Fit”. It was quite a juxtaposition to what Havok indicated was their first time performing “Caught” from ‘Bodies’ as the band had to take a moment to ensure they had instruments set up in the right key. It’s one of the band’s more softer pieces of work and was just as powerful live as the recording. As has been customary as of late, “Miss Murder” and “Silver and Cold” ended the set to wild moshing and crowd surfing. A humorous moment took place when drummer Adam Carson and Havok came back on-stage and Havok took some time to acknowledge their East Bay roots, expressing his gratitude for everyone’s enthusiasm during the set and embracing the band since their days in the mid-90s and dedicated “Third Season” to the designer of the Black Cat style AFI shirts from the era. However, Havok realized that guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter Burgan weren’t on-stage to perform, so he went backstage to get them! Ending the night with “The Days of the Phoenix”, it put an emphatic punctuation to a night that brought back many a memory of that local hardcore band that went onto mainstream success but were still those boys from the East Bay.