Show Review
SOMA - Point Loma
April 23rd 2003

By Amber Shaffer,SDAM Staff Writer
©Copyright 2021 Shaffer
Photos Courtesy of Paul Parks

So far, this is my favorite show of the year. Was it the best? No, (although according to SOMA owner Len who took the stage to announce the band, "AFI and SOMA are the hottest ticket of the year." I love that Len gets onstage during all the big shows.). But it was still my favorite. I had such a great time finally going to a show in San Diego for a band that I knew all the lyrics for, that I was in shout-along heaven. I couldn't believe how packed SOMA was, but I still managed to squish myself up front to the right of the stage. The crowd density coupled with SOMA's practically non-existent ventilation system made for a particularly humid, sweaty experience. The amount of body fluids I exchanged with under-age boys would have gotten me into legal trouble in any other setting.

AFI has a strong, devoted fan base. And these fans are not happy their Misfits-meets-The Cure punks are gaining mainstream momentum. No one likes to share their favorite secret after all. But the fans are starting to face reality: AFI are gonna be big. With their new popularity came a lot of new "types" of people in the crowd. No longer was it a few hundred punk and goth kids dressed in black fishnet and wearing eyeliner in homage to their idol, singer Davey Havok. The crowd is now much larger (SOMA's 2400 capacity Mainstage was packed to the gills) and unfortunately there were a lot of San Diego meat heads at the show. Luckily none of them were by me so I was able to enjoy AFI without distraction.

I had to wonder what the new fans in the audience were thinking when they heard the cult-like chanting that the die-hards began as AFI's intro/entrance music began. Chanting a band's name is normal - standard, even - for a concert. But AFI fans are a bit different. They chant early AFI lyrics: "THROUGH OUR BLEEDING, WE ARE ONE!" Sounds a bit scary/creepy, doesn't it? I love the band, and I don't see anything wrong with the chanting, but I just can't get in to this ritual.

The band took the stage, clad from head to toe in white, a look I saw them rock two years ago during their "Haunting of the Bay" 3-night stint at Slim's in San Francisco during Halloween. The crowd went nuts the entire time and there was TONS of shoving going on. I'm used to that dying down after the initial burst of excitement, but this time it didn't cease until the band left the stage. The crowd was singing along so loud Davey couldn't hear himself half the time. The band seemed rather somber (more than usual) tonight, despite the crowd's enthusiasm. They didn't smile much. Well, Davey might have, but his hair's always in his face so you couldn't tell. And I heard discussion among the fans after the show that the band didn't seem happy to be in San Diego. I don't know about all that, and I was still completely caught up in the show; Davey's usual display of round-house kicks never ceases to amuse, bassist Hunter's jumping around is fun (and looks great in photos!), and guitarist Jade pumping up the crowd was cute. During a song I always forget the name of, Davey walked out into, or onto rather, the crowd and they supported him on their hands and shoulders. Standard procedure at an AFI show, but pretty cool if you've never seen it before. There were lots of sneaky stage divers sneaking around security and diving off the stage. One guy dove off the speakers on the side of the stage, a la Johnny Depp in the Tom Petty "Rebel Without a Clue" video. He was luckier than another guy. You know the joke about the guy who dives off the stage but no one catches him and he lands on the floor? Well it happened tonight. The only real let-down of the night was the lack of an encore, which is unusual for them. But it was so freaking hot, I was more than happy to leave. I had pried myself out of the clutches of the front row about a forty minutes into the set anyway because I couldn't deal with the shoving and the sweat any longer.

I have to say, the highlight of the evening was my shirt purchase. I went to the merch stand and the shirts were all variations of the red and black theme of their latest album, except one, which was black and purple. So I bought that one just to show my friends I own something other than red and black. Now I have PURPLE and black. Ha! It had a logo, band name, and album name on it. In the parking lot after the show I stripped out of my completely soaked tank top and put on my new purchase because I couldn't stand it any more. When I got home I looked in the mirror and realized the text on the front of the shirt was not the title of the new album, as I had thought. I hadn't been wearing my glasses when I bought the shirt, so I had just assumed that it was either album name or tour name. But in the mirror I saw it was the beginning of a lyric. I knew there was writing on the back (which again, I had thought was something else). I didn't want to turn around because I recognized the lyric on the front and I really hoped I was wrong about what was going to be on the back. The front says "I disintegrate". And on the back? *drum roll* "This pain is fucking real". NOOOOOOOO! Despite appearances at times, I am not 15 and angsty, dammit. I love AFI lyrics because they are so goth and tragic that I'm half-amused when I listen, but they aren't the story of my life. By any means. So my shirt, which initially embarrassed me, now amuses me and I love it. And for $12, I can't really complain. I wear it. My friends laugh. I laugh. It's good times and reminds me of the night I got to spend pressed up agains cute jail-bait in eyeliner.

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