I discovered AFI when I needed it most. I mean, middle school was a tough time for most of us, wasn’t it? I had a lot going on, I had just been diagnosed with narcolepsy, my parents were in a fierce custody battle, only using me as pawn for revenge, and other things… The 2 friends I had were also on hard times, we were all dealing with things that kids shouldn’t have to deal with. Yet, we supported each other through the difficult, confusing times, and our drug off choice was music. We discovered Decemberunderground, and not long after, Crash Love came out. We found comfort in our company and our headphones. When the chance presented itself to take my friend with me to the AFI/Green Day concert at the Gothic Theatre in Denver, we set our hearts on it, but alas, the bane of every pubescent young woman, her mom said “no”. I ended up going, my parent escorting at the time, and it was incredible, but I missed my friend… I promised her that someday we’d go to a concert together, just the two of us, 'rents be damned!
It took 8 years, but the stars had finally aligned when I found the Mourning in Amerika tour was coming to Bozeman, and although my friend and I had not spoken much since I had moved to Wyoming, I knew this would be our chance to keep our promise. I got tickets months in advance, and we reconnected, it was as if no time has passed at all. We talked about our lives and how they had changed. We were doing better for ourselves. Our dreams were coming to fruition. Everything happened so organically. The day finally came, and we road tripped all the way to Bozeman, completely stoked for the show. I believe Anti-Flag played first, and they were amazing. After their performance, all the lights went out… pitch black. Suddenly, the energy in the Field House Venue became absolutely electric. Suddenly, from the darkness coming from nowhere, yet everywhere, we heard a growing unified voice from the masses, it was hard to distinguish, at first… but soon it became unmistakable, the chanting became roaring and chills moved through me as I heard them calling:
“LOVE! YOUR HATE! YOUR! FAITH LOST! YOU! ARE NOW! ONE! OF US!”
We danced like nobody was watching at the foot of the barricades. It was enchanting to watch the band perform, we were captivated in sheer bliss of the moment. Surprisingly, they played quite a bit of their older songs, which made the nostalgia well up that much more. After their performance ended, my friend and I bolted to the merch table to try to catch a glimpse of the band. We got our shirts, but didn’t find them their. We decided to go on an AFI hunt. Security had the building tied down tight. As we pondered on what we should do, my friend reflexively complimented a man on his awesome Converse sneakers. He came over to us, and introduced himself as “Kermit”. He said that if we were looking for AFI, that we should follow him out to parking lot because he has an in with the bands and maybe we can meet them. We were unsure of following this man we had just met out to the parking lot, there was a no re-entry policy, plus, we had just met this guy. Against our better judgement, we followed him. Sure enough, on the edges of the parking lot was a group obvious die-hard AFI fans. It was so cold out, but we waited patiently with a young man who said his name was Michael was carrying a poster tube. He said he had been to 16 consecutive shows on this tour, and he wants his poster signed by all the band members. He only needed Davey’s signature to complete his piece. It was long after the show, and we were losing hope that we’d ever see the band come out. Then, Kermit pulls out a freaking violin from a case on his wheelchair and starts playing Flogging Molly, the fans and I did a circle-pit around Kermit and his fiddle. You could see people shuffling around in the Anti-Flag tour bus, and faces blurred from the privacy-glass windows peeking out to see what the hell was going on, but our serenade didn’t draw anyone out, sadly. It was getting colder, and my friend and I were about to call it quits, and asked Michael what possessed him to wait so diligently in the freezing night, and he said “You miss out if you don’t take the risk”. My friend and I decided we would persevere with him. Kermit had disappeared and came back with a mountain of coats from a lost and found. So we bundled up and waited. Eventually, Jade and I assume his girlfriend were seen walking to their bus. We waited at a respectful distance, we waved and thanked him for the show, and the two left to go in the tour bus. Michael asked where Davey would be. “He should wander out here, soon” he called out before closing the bus door. So we waited, and eventually, he came out. His figure was easily recognized in the streetlamp light. We expressed our thanks for the show, and he thanked us for our support, and started to go inside the bus. This was our only chance to thank him for helping us through those tough times all those years ago, the moment was so fleeting, I couldn’t think of anything to say. I was star struck and at a loss for words. My friend blurted out, “Thank you. for everything!”. Davey paused briefly at the comment, and turned once more to wave and thank us. He didn’t come back out, but it understandable and respectable that after a high-energy show like that, you’d want to take a rest and get back on the road. The fact that we got to go to the concert, get up to the barricades, and catch a glimpse of the band after the show, is incredible. As corny as it sounds, the friends we made along the way really did make an already great night magical and one I will remember forever. I’d also like to give major props to the security manager and security director for letting us wait outside by the buses and for keeping the show safe and organized.
Well, that was a rant, and not the best-written story… but the point is it was an absolute dream come true and it’s all thanks to AFI and the wonderful people we met along the way. Also, huge thank-you to Michael for telling me about these forums, as a former DF member, it is super exciting to see active forums again!