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A.F.I.

with Destination: Daybreak and the Distillers

The Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando, FL November 16, 2000

“I’ve waited four years for this!” said my friend excitedly as we walked into Sapphire for the A.F.I. show. Afterwards, I could see why. A.F.I. (A Fire Inside) was truly amazing.

First things first. It was a pleasant surprise when Destination: Daybreak took the stage to start off the night. I don’t envy them the task of opening for A.F.I. I’ve seen D:D once before, and they’re really good. The singer’s frightening screams and angst-ridden guitar are nicely balanced with bittersweet, emo breakdowns. Actually, I would be happy just putting the band on mute and watching the lead guitar player. He’s a show all by himself. He played like a possessed man, with lots of swinging the guitar, jumping, and turning.

The next band, the Distillers, definitely won the punk rock fashion award for the night. The two female vocalists/guitarists were decked out in torn-up Sid and Nancy shirts, greasy black hair, and lots of tattoos. A snarling punk rock attitude came along with it. I lost count of how many times they spit on the crowd. But they were a lot of fun, and the crowd seemed to eat up their fast, raunchy punk rock.

After the Distillers, the tension started. I watched the big, tough punk rock boys become almost giddy as they waited for A.F.I. The club played cheesy spooky music, like the songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Soon, the stage was lit only by jack o’lanterns, and A.F.I. took the stage. And did they ever take the stage! Davey Havok was clad in black leather with white face makeup and black lipstick. That must be why some people assume that A.F.I. is a “goth” band. Also, the bass player kind of looked like Billy Idol. Despite his ominous appearance, Havok seemed very gracious and awed by the crowd’s enthusiasm, saying “thank you” a lot.

I must admit, I was so dumbstruck with A.F.I.’s performance that I don’t really remember specific songs they played. Their music is heavy hardcore, punctuated with lots of punk rock-type yelling choruses. I think everyone at the show that night knew every word to every song. It amazed me how Davey Havok and the band assumed total and complete control over the crowd. It’s hard to explain.

When the show was over, I staggered outside and felt slightly disoriented. The show was pretty short; it was over by 9:30 in the evening. But so much had been packed into those few hours. It was well worth the wait.