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With Live Nation hosting the first When We Were Young Festival bringing all the classic emo bands from the mid-2000s together in one massive festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. All the bands planned their tours to pass through neighboring states on their way to the festival. That meant most of the bands were going to be coming through California, and all the best concerts were going to be happening. One band playing the festival and travelling through California is AFI, doing a two-night stay and selling out both nights at the House of Blues, Anaheim. I was fortunate enough to see night one and was even more excited for the show as this was my first time seeing AFI. Bringing with them was a Los Angeles native band called Drab Majesty.

Drab Majesty is a darkwave music project featuring two members. Deb Demure on guitar, and Mona D on keyboards. Both members trade off vocal duties. When hitting the stage, Drab Majesty instantly caught the audience’s attention as they were dressed in silver tuxedos and dawning silver face paint and sunglasses indoors, looking almost like 80s robots. As Drab Majesty played through their set, their darkwave synth pop style music took the audience back to simpler times. Their music transported us to an 80s comedy movie. As if we were best friends at a high school dance. Dancing and talking with each other while trying build up the courage to go talk to the love interest that we have been chasing all movie. It was hard not to feel nostalgic while listening to the music. And if the crowd wasn’t as packed as it was, people would have started dancing in the crowd.

AFI is a band I have always heard has to be experienced live. Their music just sounds better, the energy on stage is candy to the eye, and Davey Havok just oozes charm and charisma on stage. Well, it was finally my turn to see them! Opening their set with “Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings),” front man Davey Havok was a rabbit jumping everywhere. When he was not jumping around the stage, he was still running from end to end performing for every person in the audience. Guitarist Jade Puget and bassist Hunter Burgan were just as energetic as Davey. They could both be seen working the whole stage and getting on the risers to make sure everyone knew they were the ones performing. Drummer Adam Carson surprised me, as AFI is known for transforming themselves through different genres of music over their 30-year career. Including Punk rock, hardcore, emo, gothic rock, and post-hardcore, yet Adam drums on a relatively basic kit. He proves that you do not need the fanciest or biggest drum kit to excel on the drums.

AFI gave the fans a treat this night by playing songs from across seven of their albums. No matter what generation of AFI you like the best, you were going to hear a favorite song. Playing songs like “On Your Back,” “17 Crimes,” “She Speaks the Language” & “No Eyes,” which were both live debuts of these songs, “No Poetic Device,” “Feed from the Floor,” “Of Greetings and Goodbyes,” “The Days of the Phoenix,” and “Morningstar.” But without a doubt, the crowd went ballistic for “Girl’s Not Grey,” “Silver and Cold,” and when AFI went into “The Celluloid Dream” to end the night, you could feel the House of Blues shaking. AFI ended up playing a 18 song set for over an hour and a half, and even then AFI’s discography is so long there were songs that people felt we missed out on. None the less, the music we got to hear was cherished.

Though this night only consisted of two bands, the show was packed to the brim with fans ready to enjoy some amazing music. Drab Majesty was an interesting choice for this tour just on the contrast of how more mellow and grooving the music was verse AFI’s high energy in your face style. Regardless, Drab Majesty made themselves known to people and created at least one new fan in myself. AFI set a fire inside the House of Blues. Kind of literally, as the fire alarm was pulled at one point. Luckily nothing was actually on fire. This was only night one of AFI’s two night stay at the House of Blues, and I imagine night two should be just as exciting.

Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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