AFI, Chain Gang of 1974, Souvenirs | Riviera Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

AFI, Chain Gang of 1974, Souvenirs All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Tue., Jan. 31, 7 p.m. 2017

It’s been nearly 18 years since AFI released Black Sails in the Sunset, the opus in which the band began to devotedly spin a modern polished Danzig sound—rife with devil locks, hardcore solemnity, and melodic woooaahhh woooaahhh crescendos at every turn. Less hardcore punk than its breakneck predecessor Open Your Mouth and Shut Your Eyes, Black Sails was more thematic in character, ultimately defining the band’s brooding sound (and maybe your wardrobe if, like me, you were a senior in high school at the time it dropped). Behind the gusto of their ever-subtly-morphing front man Davey Havok, AFI pushed ahead from there, eventually happening upon their major-label-debut, Sing the Sorrow, in 2003, which eased them into the mainstream of radio rock even as they maintained the dark flamboyance that made them so magnetic. They’ve never reachieved the excellence and thunder of that record, but it’s not for want of trying. Their new self-titled record for Concord very much sounds like an elder, seasoned AFI—minus the unnecessary electro-symphonic and vocal-effect flourishes but still with a strong focus on big choruses (“Still a Stranger”) and Havok’s bravado as he shifts from pensive to angsty to fed up like it’s part of the job (“So Beneath You”). And though the record feels limp and even derivative at times, there are tracks that sound so specifically AFI you’d have trouble mistaking them for anyone else (e.g., “White Offerings”).

Kevin Warwick

Price: $28

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