“We didn’t know anybody liked us,” frontman Mike Kinsella said last Saturday in front of a sold out Fonda Theatre when one smart ass called him out for saying they’d never ever get back together several times before. How could they have known, really? Illinois band American Football released one record in 1999 and then called it quits soon after. Kinsella went on to become more popularly known as Owen while playing in several other bands, drummer Steve Lamos went on to become a highly rated professor, and guitarist Steve Holmes played for a number of projects throughout the years. So yes, they may not have known the extent of their one and only record’s cult status, but with multiple sold out shows here and abroad, I’m sure they get the idea now.
Once the curtain pulled up, revealing the iconic picture of the house in the background, and the band started playing “Five Silent Miles” with Nate Kinsella helping out on bass, the crowd was understandably loud and excited. “What took you so long?” someone yelled out. Many things were yelled out during the show. The vibe felt something like, I want to make sure this is happening so I’ll just heckle Mike Kinsella and the two Steves until they acknowledge that I am indeed in this moment with them. People sang to every song they possibly could and I even saw a group of very happy guys mimicking the drum patterns by tapping each others’ heads. It was crazy how much the band sounded like themselves after all this time. The trumpet solos, the moving guitar riffs, Kinsella’s raspy voice as he belted out words that still rang true to many of us in the audience – everything felt so real and raw. It was hard not to feel emotional about it. It was the kind of show you wanted to bottle up and keep forever.
Of course, “Never Meant,” the sad anthem to end all sad anthems, was played at the very end and opened the floor to even louder sing-alongs. As we exited the venue, my friend said, “I can’t believe I just saw American Football. I’m so stoked right now!” It was worth the wait.
The show was opened by the truly underrated two-piece The Dodos. I have been following this band for a while now and it really baffles me how they managed to stay under the radar for so long. They played a new song that they were worried about. “We can’t really play it yet,” front man Meric Long said. Despite the disclaimer, it was really good and I’m eager to hear more of their new stuff. Their new album called “Individ” comes out on January 27th.