AFI @ The Big Top Luna Park, Sydney NSW Australia 09/09/2017 written by Brendan Lewis.
Welcome to the first headline ‘AFI’ rollercoaster in over ten years, here at The Big Top in Luna
Park. Please remain standing with both fists in the air at all times. Throughout this ride you may
experience discomfort in the crowd of fans who’ve waited a decade for this occasion, along with
hearing loss and the inability to speak the next day. Now hold on, enjoy the ride, and if you need
to go to the bathroom, now would be the wrong time.
The eery intro to ‘I Hope You Suffer’ calls the band onto the stage to thunderous applause,
following into ‘I Hope You Suffer’? (my excitement builds) No, the drums start banging, then lead
singer Davey walks out onto the stage to join his fellow band members, along to an even louder
cheer from the crowd, as the band start the ride with an AFI classic ‘Strength Through Wounding’.
Of course you’d expect an album-tour set to be initiated with the first song off that album, in this
case ‘Dark Snow’. However ‘Dark Snow’ doesn’t pack as much of a punch as other hits, so its
obvious the band took this onboard and chose ‘Strength Through Wounding’ first instead, which
hits hard and leaves a mark nice and early!
Without a second of silence the band charge into yet another ‘AFI’ classic ‘Girls Not Grey’,
sustaining the high energy released for ‘Strength Through Wounding’. ‘Girls Not Grey’ summoned
fist pumping from what seemed like the entire audience, as well as said audience singing along to
every word. This did muffle Davey’s incredibly accurate vocals a little, which were mixed
adequately yes, but I feel should be raised ever so slightly to stand above the audiences voice,
not amongst it… but hey, I’m picky! Speaking of standing above the audience, Davey stands up
on/jumps off the speakers on the stage, waving his arms to the crowd like a ‘Conductor’, egging
on louder cheers and sing-a-longs from the audience, along with brilliant arena quality lights
shining behind Davey accentuating his grand conducting along to the music even more.
Next we finally hear a new song off their latest album ‘So Beneath You’, followed by another
classic ‘Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings)’ separated only by a “welcome Sydney, we are AFI”
aww what?! You mean I ended up at AFI instead of Placebo?!. Both songs dynamically fitting in
perfectly with the previous songs with their sheer angsty punk rock bite and hard hitting beats and
guitar/bass rifts. These songs featured more conducting from Davey, along with him leaning off
the stage to connect with/rev up the audience even more (which ohhh it did). This was
accompanied by guitarist and bassist Jade and Hunter respectively, moving around the stage with
Davey like they really do have ‘A Fire Inside’. Davey shares the spot light with Jade and Hunter as
they too stand on/jump off the speakers on the stage.
The band finally take a much needed breather after the over-load of energy, and build the
suspense for the next song, wait for it… ‘Love Like Winter’ brought a slightly contrasting energy
with its lighter feel yet still creepy in its lyrics. This loved hit instigated a perfectly in-sync jumping
from the audience and a good ol’ clap-a-long in the songs bridge whilst still singing along to every
The energy was appropriately toned down slightly for ‘Beautiful Thieves’ with its sway-like rhythm
and catchy guitar rifts, with Davey waving his arms around to the beat, before a quick chat to the
audience, then bringing the energy right back to a fever pitch with ‘The Lost Souls’. As if the high
tempo, wild punk sound wasn’t making the chanting crowd go crazy enough, Davey jumps off the
stage and grabs us front row hardcores hands, and of course goes to grab my hand as I’m
looking down writing notes… I did not see that coming.
‘Clove Smoke Catharsis’ is up next with its slower, grungy, would be appropriate to sway to
sound with Davey’s voice being perfectly clear for, followed by ’17 Crimes’. ’17 Crimes’ sustained
the brilliant sounding vocals, which I gotta say. With Davey jumping around/off the stage and
waving his arms around like a monkey on speed, I’m amazed he’s able to keep his vocals
powerful and accurate! I mean if it were me, all you’d hear is huffing, puffing, collapsing… I need
to work on my cardio. Davey on the other hand, still managed to lean off the stage to grab my
hand, making up for me missing his hand shake previously, whilst keeping up with the energetic
performance. This showed some amazing showmanship and dedication to his fans. With ’17
Crimes’ raising the energy once more, it really seemed as though the band are embracing
performing at a theme park, making their set flow up and down like a rollercoaster.
This rollercoaster stays with the adrenaline pumping action for early AFI hit ‘Of Greetings And
Goodbyes’, before coming back down slightly for yet another golden oldie ‘Silver And Cold’. The
whole crowd chanting along to ‘Silver And Cold’ like it was the national anthem, plus the band
building up to the first chorus to explosive levels while the band continue to move around the
stage like that monkey on speed, as well as Davey pointing to his fans and doing a fancy kick if I
saw right, helped solidify the songs anthemic grandeur. The only let down to this song was the
absence of the previously well accentuating lighting, luckily the songs energy and Davey’s
accurate vocals made up for it.
The energy keeps being thrown around like a rollercoaster with slower tempo but aggressively
powerful hit ‘I Hope You Suffer’, showing off Davey’s ability to hit some amazing high notes at the
end of words, plus the return of great lighting. The speed of the rollercoaster creeps up again for
crowd favourite ‘Days Of The Phoenix’ with an epic intro and the mosh pit going wild and
throwing over some crowd surfers (of course). The crowds energy was likely amplified by the band
suspensefully building up to the chorus.
The rollercoaster predictably slows down yet again for ‘Snow Cats’ off the bands latest album,
before speeding up for the home stretch with colossal punk hit ‘Miss Murder’. As you’d expect for
this massive career defining hit, ‘Miss Murder’ made the crowd jump to the beat while singing
along at the top of their lungs, even when Davey demonstrated his vocal diversity with some killer
Of course there’s an encore, but before that, with this show being an album tour show I would’ve
expected the band to play one or two more songs off that album, which is disappointing as I love
the album. However instead of curating the show around the album, they’ve instead focused on
the contrasts of songs and the way each song flows with the next which they did really well.
The encore finishes the show with a softer hit ‘Morningstar’ only building up in energy toward the
end of the song, and finally ‘This Celluloid Dream’ capping the night off with a powerful bang,
showing off all the engaging performance techniques seen earlier from the band.
Normally I’d be quite disappointed with a band not talking to their audience much during a show,
however the way Davey and the rest of the band engage with their arm gestures and body
language being constantly connected to the audience during songs, compensated for the lack of
words nicely! It really was a case of actions speak louder than words! I thoroughly enjoyed this
epic show, it featured lots of mind bending accurate punk-rock sounds mixed well enough, plus a
mountain of face melting energy!