A.F.I and Touché Amoré at Bogart’s, Past and Present Collide

This October 15th at Bogart’s, in Cincinnati, there’s going to be an intangible collision, a moment where elements of independent music will coalesce, though from markedly divergent paths. 

A.F.I has been a fixture in the larger music community for a while now, but prior to their well-earned and surprisingly long-lived rise to popularity, they were simply a punk rock band. Mohawks, bad attitude, skateboards. They were a major player in the California skate punk scene that creeped across the country, and the globe, in the late 90’s. 

It’s strange to look back, for me anyway, and watch their transition from bratty kids making obnoxious punk rock songs to full-blown, Hot Topic endorsed icons. Their sound has very obviously shifted between now and then – 2 minute ragers have, along the way, changed from hardcore-tinged gloomy kid anthems, to electronic-laced, Goth opuses, always with vocalist Davey Havok’s signature delivery. And I’ve enjoyed all of it, to varying degrees, from the first track I heard. 

Not to say I was there from the very beginning, but to illustrate my history with them, they were actually one of the very first bands I had the opportunity to interview, live and on video no less. 1999, on tour with Hot Water Music and Sick Of It All, at Sparks in Louisville, KY. Their All Hallows EP had just been released, which contains 4 tracks that distill the essence of what A.F.I. has and will always be to me: heavy, emotional, melodic, dark, but catchy and oddly accessible. It’s that very accessibility that lead to their cult status, that made A.F.I. in to the household name they became. 

They’ve been idle for a couple of years now but look poised to return, and in more ways than one. With the release of their 10th full-length, Burials, and their current tour, it feels like A.F.I. is getting a bit closer to their roots, and their choice of direct support might be the most telling sign. 

Another band I’ve been long familiar with, Touché Amoré has been a significant part of the re-burgeoning independent music scene since their inception. Garnering the attention of indie label stalwart No Sleep Records, then moving on to metal juggernaut Deathwish, they’ve made a name for themselves with their intense live show, piercing, personal lyrics, and outspoken, positive ideology. If you’re a fan, you’ve seen them in Cincinnati, at Bogart’s actually, playing a “front room” show with their friends Make Do And Mend. The difference between playing on the floor and playing on the actual stage is massive, and is absolutely indicative of what this band has accomplished in just a few short years. 

Their third full-length, the absolutely destructive, abrasive, and incredible Is Survived By released September 24th to near unanimous critical acclaim, and rightly so. It’s as devastating as it is uplifting, foregoing feigned subtlety, opting instead for heart-on-its-sleeve sincerity, musically and lyrically. 

To say they are in a unique position would be a severe understatement, as, for me, the parallels between where they are now and where A.F.I. was when they started are too interesting to dismiss. Old school A.F.I. fans will take to them instantly, while new fans may find them a hard sell. But no matter what, this tour will change things for Touché Amoré, as they will have the eyes, and more importantly, the ears, of a whole new kind of crowd on them.

 Maybe I’m reading a bit too much in to this. It’s just music, right? Maybe.  But, like the bands themselves, this show, and this tour, and what it is for each band, means much, much more to me. This is an opportunity to watch two phenomenal bands – as they embody the actual definition of “phenoms” – share a stage, a singular moment, where fans of both can look back and say, “Yeah, I was there,” and recognize that this was something important. For everyone. 

Check out Jared's interview with AFI from 1999 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDboO2yPIIs