The Amity Affliction Gets Intimate

Over the last almost 10 years there has been one band that has helped me through some of the darkest times that I have experienced in my life. That band is The Amity Affliction. In that time this group of Australian rockers has come to dominate the post-Hardcore scene here in the U.S. and overseas. I remember when I first listened to the album Chasing Ghosts in 2012 when they were still relatively unknown, I was blown away and I had a gut feeling that they would eventually become a force to be reckoned with. In 2015 my prediction came true with their release of the album Let the Ocean Take Me. Every song on that album was phenomenal and it became an instant classic in the scene. They went from unknown to ubiquitous almost overnight and they’ve been doing nothing but releasing banger after banger ever since. With the 2020 release of Everyone Loves You…Once You Leave Them their popularity only grew, but unfortunately with the emergence of COVID-19, and cases surging right alongside record sales, we were left craving a tour that had to be put on hold. We finally got our wish in mid-March when The Amity Affliction hit the road, with supporting acts by The Seafloor Cinema and Archetypes Collide, for an “intimate” U.S. tour. These shows were indeed intimate. We all know that The Amity Affliction is capable of packing some damn good-sized venues, but this tour was strictly small venues that really gave the fans a chance to get closer to the artists than ever before.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to be in attendance for the first and last shows of the tour. It all started on March 16th in San Diego, CA at a very small venue by the name of SOMA. When I had first gotten there, I had no idea that the tour was meant to be at small venues, so I was very confused as to why someone would’ve booked such a big band for such a place. SOMA had a stage that was approximately 20 feet wide by 15 feet deep, it was so small that the opening bands shared a drum kit that was set up 5 inches from the edge of the stage. I’ve never been to a show where the drummer was up front with the guitarists, and the vocalist, so this was all kind of strange to me. The venue floor was also small, there were no barricades, so it was chest to stage and wall to wall with people. I had to admit, being able to see The Amity Affliction in this setting was really cool. It gave me that hometown local band vibe. I didn’t feel like I was separated by layers of security and gatekeepers. It took me back to those days’ way back when, where you’d drink 40’s of Mickeys and Steele Reserve in the parking lot and then go in to see your best friends play a show.  I loved that these guys were interacting with the audience. I loved that the crowd surfers, and there were many, were landing on stage, embracing Joel and other band members, maybe even singing a line or two before jumping back off into the crowd.

The energy at that first date was phenomenal. It was packed from wall to wall, a completely sold-out event, which could only be a good sign for the rest of the tour. The Seafloor Cinema opened first, and these guys were great. The longhaired Sacramento trio joked with the crowd, they got people singing along with some of their songs, and they put everyone in such a good mood. Their positivity was utterly contagious. Archetypes Collide, was a powerhouse that just kept chugging. Their ability to put on a full stage show on a stage that was a quarter the size of my living room was amazing. Both bands kicked up the energy in the crowd with some amazing covers of “A Favor House Atlantic” by Coheed and Cambria (The Seafloor Cinema) and “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park (Archetypes Collide). While the first date of the tour was great, it’s the last date that I’d really like to focus on because I’ve never experienced anything quite like it…while the songs and the energy were about the same, it was the emotional setting that really drove it home for me.

On April 23rd, 2022, after playing 29 sold-out shows, traveling thousands of miles, and touching thousands more hearts, this group of 12 musicians gathered in the Sonoran Desert (Tucson, Arizona) to play their final show of the “Somewhere Beyond the Blue Tour”. I showed up to scope the venue in the early afternoon and there was already a line at the door. By the time they opened at 8pm the line was wrapped around the building and to the end of the block. I spoke with a few fans before I went in and there were a lot of people who drove over 2 hours just to come see this show. The cool thing for me was the buzz in the air that was coming specifically from the bands and crew. They all knew this was the last show and there was a feeling in the air I can’t really describe. It was mostly celebratory, but there was also a melancholic touch to it. It’s like back when you were a kid and you had an amazing day adventuring with your friends, you’re so happy with what you did and what you accomplished…but you’re also a tired and a little sad because you know that it’s over and you must go back to “real life” now.

The Seafloor Cinema took the stage and immediately got the crowd bouncing up and down to their upbeat jams. They opened with “Nightjammer” and I could already feel how much this band had progressed over the last five weeks since the last time I had seen them. Justin’s voice had gotten steadier and stronger. Seth was shredding with zero apprehension and his smile was contagious as he walked his fingers up and down the fretboard. Timmy kept the crowd laughing between songs and his beats kept them rockin’ hard. This was their first real tour, and it was so cool to see how much they had grown in such a small time.  These guys started the tour with skill and ended up with experience that can’t be learned anywhere else but on the road. Being a newer band, they bounced back and forth between tracks off their only two albums. If you decide to give these guys a look, I promise you, the song “Crash Nebula…On Ice!” will not disappoint. These guys deserve to be touring regularly and I know they will be soon.

Archetypes Collide is a little heavier and they really hit the stage packing a punch. Opening with their song “Your Misery” you can’t really help but get sucked into that whirlwind of electricity. I was surprised to see how many people in the crowd were singing along until I found out that they were in fact from Phoenix, Arizona. They rocked the shit out of that stage from beginning to end. Vocalist Kyle Pastor is a livewire with an incredible voice, and he utilizes every inch of the stage while he is performing, Guitarists Jared Knister and Brandon Baker have a perfect blend of heavy and melodic riffs that just send this group over the top. Archetypes Collide is a very versatile band, with songs ranging from post-Hardcore to nu-metal. Their brand was the perfect bridge between The Seafloor Cinema and The Amilty Affliction.

By the time The Amity Affliction took the stage, the crowd was chomping at the bit. Chants of “AMITY! AMITY! AMITY!” rang through the venue for a few minutes before they took the stage. People had their phones out waiting to record the second the band their appearance. Finally, the lights dropped down and the Aussie quartet hit the stage with the opening song off Let The Ocean Take Me, “Pittsburg”. This song is heavy, in your face, and packed with emotion right out of the gate, it’s a great way to start an album and an even better way to open a show. “Pittsburg was followed up with the 2015 single “Shine On”, and then the 2021 single “Like Love”. After the lesser-known singles, they went straight into the hits that everyone knows and loves. “Drag The Lake”, “D.I.E”, and “Chasing Ghosts”. The crowd was absolutely losing their shit at this point. I don’t think there was a single person in that crowd that wasn’t singing along. From that point out the crowd participation was unbelievable. It was a non-stop singalong for emo kids. If Joel and Ahren felt like it, they could’ve had the crowd just do the show for them. Not a single word was missed, every note was there, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen such a participatory crowd in my life. Amity played almost all their biggest hits; “Don’t Lean On Me”, “Ivy”, “All Fucked Up” etc. I have personally had a hard time with “Deaths Hand” since my best friend passed away a few years back and hearing that song live was such a healing moment for me. I saw many others in the crowd having similar reactions and it led me to believe that I am not as alone as sometimes think I am. There are so many others out there that are relating to this music in the exact same way that I am. To me, that makes the healing that much easier…that’s all we really want, right? To not be alone. Amity closed out their phenomenal set with “Soak Me in Bleach” as their encore. They said their good nights and goodbyes and took off backstage.

What happened after Amity left the stage really made my heart happy. Outside by the tour bus Joel Birch had a line of probably 100 or more fans that were lined up to take photos with him. He would stand and pose with each fan that walked up. Being shown such kindness from someone you look up to is such a beautiful thing. The awesomeness didn’t stop there, for the next two hours both Archetypes Collide, and The Seafloor Cinema, spent the final night pf their tour hanging out with fans, taking pictures, signing shirts, and CDs, and fans congratulating them on a great show. Its artists like these, the artists who are there for their fans, that really make an impact in people’s lives. Instead of playing the distant celebrity role they bring their humanity into the equation and REALLY connect with their fans. When the crowds had dissipated and everyone, made their way home, only the bands remained. They sat around having a few last-minute drinks as they reminisced over the last 5 weeks. They spoke of future tour plans, how they’d all stay in touch, and how they were all planning to visit one another soon. It was such a heartfelt goodbye. You could tell that these musicians had really become close while on the road and it added such a different aspect to shows for me. When we normally see a band, we drive out, have fun, and drive home…but rarely do we stop to think about the band’s experiences. The trials and tribulations, the bonds that are formed, the experiences they share, it doesn’t really cross our minds, but I think when you take these things into account, it makes these tours that much more special. You’re not only inviting these bans into your life by seeing them but you’re becoming part of theirs, if only for one night, you’re a part of your favorite bands story.

Being able to see one of your favorite bands is one of the greatest experiences in the world. I would list it right up there next to witnessing the births of my children, although not nearly as stressful. It takes you from the heartfelt moments when you first heard them, or the moments that they helped you through, and intensifies it by a million-fold. If a certain song had helped you through one of the darkest periods in your life, hearing and seeing it performed live is like a punch straight to the heart. It is catharsis at its finest. I’ve seen people fall to their knees with tear-stricken faces screaming the lyrics that saved them. I’ve seen people with closed eyes completely lose themselves in existential bliss. I’ve personally witnessed the healing of the human condition, and it didn’t happen in a church…it happened in a venue. Hearing these songs performed live helps to heal the wounds of the past completely. The final layer of scar tissue to hold you together. If you were to ask me what the best way to heal a broken heart would be, I would tell you to go see your favorite band. The Amity Affliction is taking their tour overseas so if you’re not in the US and you’ve been dying to see them as much as the rest of us, I suggest you find the nearest show date and get your ticket!

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