South Florida has awaited an American Football show for nearly two decades. After the seminal indie band’s “surprising comeback,” fans of all ages piled into the pit at Revolution Live last Saturday to sway and sing to the group’s brooding, odd-meter emo.
It’s a sound that’s become a mainstay for the genre – clean, winding guitar riffs and raw, drawn-out vocals. Confessional lyrics that could make anyone cry. But there was a lightheartedness throughout the venue, a quiet excitement that showed in the long merch line and lively conversation about what songs the bands would play.
For many, it felt like home, especially when Orlando natives You Blew It! opened the show. Walking onstage to Vitamin C’s “Graduation,” the band launched the venue into a state of nostalgia. There was a high school-type catharsis to their set, inviting scream-singing to “Match & Tinder” and push moshing to older songs like “Terry vs. Tori.”
Between songs, You Blew It! thanked their “idols” in American Football and marveled at playing a venue they grew up going to. It was a brief love letter to South Floridian showgoers, and there were shouts of love in return.
The amorous energy only continued as American Football took the stage, starting with “Stay Home,” the longest song on their 1999 self-titled. 19 years later, it’s aged well, filling the venue with a dreamy, somber soundtrack. It was a compelling opening, especially when backdropped by the album art of the band’s LP2, an inside view of the same house on the cover of their first album.
American Football’s sound is a slow burn, and it’s pretty in the most poignant sense. There’s a degree of math rock complexity, but the band isn’t overly cerebral. There’s comfort in the occasional three-note riff and catchy verse.
It was almost as if the band hasn’t been away for nearly 20 years, especially when newer songs like “Born to Lose” and “Give Me the Gun” nestled nicely between classics like “Honestly?” The band was comfortable on stage, so much so that singer/guitarist Mike Kinsella laid down during “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional,” clutching only a mic and a tambourine. The audience applauded the brief break, appreciating the somewhat cozy moment.
But some of the loudest cheers were for the small percussion specialist – a crew member who walked on and off stage to play an arsenal of shakers. It was a set-long inside joke, a bonding moment between band and fans.
While memories of listening to American Football – alone in your room, a light storm outside – might be painful, there was nothing lonely or tortured about their live show. Not even when they ended with “Never Meant,” which made the crowd become a chorus in gleeful irony, singing together about loneliness with their arms around each other’s shoulders.
by Carina Vo