Burning All Night with Afghan Whigs at Great American Music Hall
Last Saturday October 8th, The Afghan Whigs and Pink Mountaintops played at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. If you’ve ever seen the Whigs perform you know it’s going to be loud, intense, and hard to catch your breath. Bring your earplugs and take off your jacket cause it’s gonna get hot.
They just released their 8th album called “How do you burn?” and every time they put out new material, I know it’s going to be great. Unlike other bands when you go to to the show expecting the old hits, I always get excited to watch them deliver the new stuff. Listening to a record at home is one thing, but watching the band perform it in front of you is an experience that the Whigs master like no other. I love their new music, right now I’m obsessed with “Catch a Colt“. I can’t get enough of Dulli’s lyrics and this album has great ones, as usual. They played many hits from the “Gentleman” era, and even a gem from The Twilight Singers.
The Whigs performances are always so powerful. They are incredible musicians and even when they bring a new member like Blind Melon‘s guitarist Christopher Thorn, they keep their strong identity while adding new flair. I was lucky to be introduced to the band by the excellent drummer Patrick Keeler (that also plays with The Raconteurs and Jack White). Keeler is also an artist and designs posters, logos and merch for other bands, including works for the super cool and one of kind merch brand MadeWorn.
Backstage they had incense burning, Greg Dulli was laying on the couch watching the end of a baseball game, Christopher was playing guitar, Patrick was tweaking the set list (which I made sure to not look at), John Curley (bass) and Rick G. Nelson (violin, piano, guitar and castanets) were chilling. We talked about The Gutter Twins project Dulli had with Screaming Trees‘s Mark Lanegan who passed away this year. He talked about Mark with a smile on his face. He shared a funny story about how Mark would never talk on stage so he would give him some money if he agreed to say something silly. The dynamic of their friendship is really interesting, I love this story told by Mark about how they met. Greg asked me about my art bondage masks, which was funny. Then it was showtime and I headed upstairs to the front of the stage.
I was chatting with people around me and they were all die-hard fans, nobody was a first timer, most were following them since the 90’s. People had their earplugs on, a drink on their hands and you could feel the excitement in the air. When the Whigs hit the stage, it was loud, hard, and beautiful!
They have so many hits, I recently tried making a Best Of playlist and it had over 60 songs. So I was clearly excited about the whole set, it was so loud you could sing together without bothering people around you. It was perfect seeing them on the GAMH’s stage, because it’s low enough for you to see their hands while they play. And the drums! Patrick is one of my favorite drummers and it was such a treat to see him perform so up close.
I love that they usually play covers, in the past I got to know and love artists like Mary Queenie Lyons because of them, their rendition of Every little thing she does is magic made me love that song, “Lovecrimes” by Frank Ocean was another great one! The Whigs are a big part of my music education. This time they played the classic, “There is a light that never goes out” by The Smiths. The thing is that they choose great songs and make it their own in a way I’ve never seen another band do it. It’s fucking awesome! You can have a taste here.
They don’t dick around with the usual encore stuff, leaving the stage and waiting to come back, they just let the audience know: this is the encore and go straight to it, using every single moment to give the audience an amazing performance. At the end of the show, everyone had a smile on their faces and looked like they had their minds blown. That’s a classic Whigs show to y’all!
I got to chat again with Patrick, John and Greg while the Rolling Stones played on the backstage speaker, thanked them for an amazing time and asked Dulli if he plans on touring to perform his solo album “Random Desire” which was released during the pandemic (and made my lockdown experience much better), he said as long as he’s alive he will be performing. And as long as I’m alive I will be there to see them. Until then!