American Football

American Football


American Football a band that mean a lot to people. They only ever released an EP and one album back join 1998 and 1999 respectively, then they split up, ventured off on their own paths, leaving behind their single stunning full length effort, the self titled American Football. Instantly tagged with the ‘emo’ label because of their heartfelt, simple lyrics, they were always much more than that (in the way bands like Brand New and The Hotelier are too – emo is such a lazy and condescending tag). Employing traits from post rock, what we would now call ‘math rock’ and with songs that have proper trumpet solos as introductions, they were hardly My Chemical Romance, and they had a small but extremely loyal following, some who go so far as to say the album got them through some very tough times. It was an album that kids stumbled across, recommended by their mates, passed through colleges and unis across the land, and those who were in the club were almost evangelical about it’s powers. But they were gone, and even the people who were into them back then will rarely have had a chance to see their quiet heroes live.

Then, out of no where, they came back and started to play a handful of US shows off the back of a 15th anniversary reissue of their debut album. It was then that people, including me, started to sit up and take notice of this wonderful band. See, I am a late comer to the American Football party, someone who read the music boards on Drowned in Sound and found some of their loyal following being, well, evangelical about them, so I gave them a shot. And oh boy and I glad I did. Such is the demand for this band now, they have already played a matinee show at the same venue, and they are playing to much more people than they ever did first time round. Now here I am, stood in Gorilla with a male heavy crowd ranging from their 20s through to their 40s, waiting for something that many have waited 15 years to see – I’ve pretty much waited just a year, so feel a bit like a fraud. The reception that the band get as they come onto the stage is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Everyone is just so pleased that they are getting to see these songs live, and they let the band know. Vocalist and guitarist Tim Kinsella is beaming, and tells us that ‘we would eat the matinee crowd alive’, to more raucous applause and whooping. As soon as the signature chiming guitars begin on ‘Five Silent Miles’, I know I’m in for something special.

Hearing a room full of sentimental dudes shouting out ‘honestly I can’t remember all my teenage feelings’ at the beginning of ‘Honestly?’ sends shivers up and down my spine, as does the end of of ‘I’ll See you When We’re Both Not So Emotional’, when the crowd unite once more to shout the title back at the band…it might sound corny, but it’s a coming together of people who have waited whatever amount of time to see them, and they are not bothered about showing just how much it means to them…it’s kind of beautiful. The mournful trumpet introduction to ‘For Sure’ is glorious, the stage bathed in warm orange and reds, drummer Steve Lamos doubling up as trumpeter extraordinaire, teasing out a tune that so many will have hummed along to in their bedrooms, staring out of the window wondering when the anguish of their teenage years would cease. ‘Stay Home’ is probably their most post-rock moment, a near 10 min song with minimal, simple lyrics towards the end that are once again repeated word for word back at them. They look a bit soft on paper, but along with the ringing guitars, singing ‘thats life, it’s so social, so physical, so emotional…so stay home’ brings tears to my eyes, it’s a lovely moment.

After the Friends-esque titled ‘The One With The Wurlitzer’, the band depart to more rapturous applause and hollering, emerging once more for the incredible one-two of ‘The Summer Ends’ and perhaps their best known song, the one that will have been the first thing many people heard by the band being the first track on their album, ‘Never Meant’. When ’Summer Ends’ finishes with ‘we’ve both been so unhappy, so let’s just see what happens when the summer ends’, it couldn’t be further from the truth. As is evidenced by the sheer volume of the crowd’s appreciation for this wonderful evening, and the beaming faces on stage applauding us back, both parties are very happy indeed. We might have just witnessed grown men singing about lost teenage love and the isolation of youth, but we’ve been brought together tonight to look back at those times and revel in the nostalgia this album brings for so many people. Yes, it’s been emotional, but celebratory too,. American Football are a band that mean a lot to people.

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