On Thursday night, three bands that are known for their passionate and emotive performances, AFI, Circa Survive, and Citizen, commanded the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater stage. The natural landscape and mesmerizing environment only further amplified the qualities that have commonly defined this ticket’s live shows. It’s only ever so often you get to witness a group of people immediately taken aback by and in awe of the moment before them, and this night was bound to be one of them. Each and every band clearly felt honored and extremely appreciative, if not in shock, to be standing on a stage that so many in the world aspire to play. But if anyone deserves it, they do, because when they get an opportunity like this, they seize every moment they can. That much became clear as The Blood Tour‘s stop in Morrison, CO took us all by storm, and quickly skyrocketed to the top as this year’s best show thus far. Check out our photos of an eventful and legendary night of music!

Citizen

Citizen didn’t think they had any business playing on the Red Rocks stage, but their performance proved otherwise. They’ve always been one of those bands that I’ve personally felt were underrated for how talented they are, so I couldn’t be happier that they were picked up on a tour like this one. Every layer of emotion can be heard in Citizen’s music live, especially in songs like “The Night I Drove Alone.” The acoustics of the venue made their presence felt that much more, and sometimes you even heard new nuances of each song that you previously hadn’t discovered before. Citizen gave a cool and composed performance that was full of mood and emotion. As their set continued to sink into your mind and soul, you couldn’t help but feel moved. That’s the beauty of what Citizen do. They don’t just play for you, they lay their heart out on the stage, and that was no exception this time around.

Circa Survive

Circa Survive have always been one of those bands that make you feel like you are part of something more. That something being the ever-growing Circa family; Bonded by music, not blood. Every time I see them live, I’m always taken back by how much truth there is in the fact that it really is a family. On numerous times over the course of their set, Anthony Green ended up in the crowd, embracing and singing out to the people closely congregated around him. The smiling faces reached out to him unafraid, like they were greeting a friend, and sang along with him. In those moments it didn’t feel like a show, it felt like a reunion.

Early in the set, Anthony said he was nervous, but you couldn’t tell that night as he unleashed amongst the Red Rocks stage. He transformed that anxious energy into electricity, dealing with any pesky thoughts and fears the best he knew how: By singing and dancing. His honest confessions to his fans made him seem less like the singer of a thriving, highly-regarded band, and more like a human. Though Circa Survive’s live presence has always been authentic, I still have to point out their humbleness and appreciation this time around. It’s a rarity that a band shows the love they have for their fans not just through their words, but also through their actions. But Circa, throughout the entirety of their time on stage, not only said it, but showed it. From the very moment they arrived, they had amazed looks on their faces; Beaming, but also, completely in wonderment of the atmosphere around them. “Get Out” kicked off their set, displaying an energy that was very representative of their excitement to share their music with their fans in this breathtaking environment. The lyrics became more than just a thing of emotion, but also a thing of motion as they moved about laying their hearts out for all to see.

Things were already getting crazy, both in the stands and on the stage. As always, Anthony is bouncing around, but somehow still managing the breath and ability to hit those ridiculous notes. All of Circa are completely immersed in the here and now, giving their all, and releasing their pent up energy through their individual instruments. The remainder of their set didn’t slow down as Anthony abandoned ship again to hang out with the crowd, saying he was going to wrestle someone. The crowd split like the parting of the seas as he walked up through the stands until he found some lucky fan to lay the smack down on. Even in a large venue like this, Circa Survive go out of their way to connect with those that have stuck with them over the years. For many, including me, Circa Survive’s music has helped them get through some pretty stark times. That alone is enough for any fan to stick around, but watching their interaction with the crowd will make you love them that much more.

As an extremely influential band, it’s no surprise that Circa Survive have released many beloved and critically-acclaimed records over the years. For a band to start out with something like Juturna, that’s just insane. From that particular album, they played songs, like “In Fear and Faith” and “Holding Someone’s Hair Back.” The remainder of the setlist hit various highlights in their career, such as “In The Morning And Amazing…” off On Letting Go and “Child of the Desert” off Descensus. It’s a listing that will make you think back on all the amazing records Circa Survive have released–if you aren’t aware already. All around, they are one of those bands that make you reminisce on the past, but also make you look forward to the future, especially with their album, The Amulet, releasing this year. This would be the first time that Colorado would hear their newest single release, “Lustration,” live, and it provided for a hauntingly beautiful, stripped-down moment within a rather high-energy set.

When it all ended Anthony asked the crowd if they could play an old song. That old song being “Nesting Dolls.” But before they played their set closer, he called out, “Thanks for being my family! Thank you for this experience. Absolutely surreal and wholly beautiful.” And he couldn’t be more right in his words. Everything about that night was surreal, and absolutely everything was beautiful.

AFI

A fire raged inside the Red Rocks Amphitheater Thursday night as AFI took the stage. Prior, chants of, “Through our bleeding, we are one,” echoed throughout the entire venue; Each word drenched in anticipation and excitement for the moments that were about to come. Soon they emerged amongst billows of fog, which swirled eerily in the wind behind them. Lightning briefly struck around us, but AFI’s electrifying presence had us too hypnotized to even care. Davey Havok raised his hands up like a mad maestro as the intro track to their 2003 release, Sing The Sorrow, “Miseria Cantare (The Beginning),” rang out somberly, yet triumphantly, setting the tone for the remainder of their set. The crowd began to chant out again, this time exclaiming, “Love your hate, your faith lost, You are now one of us.” Their voices raising together as one in the dark. AFI were already, despite just opening up their set, lighting up the Red Rocks Amphitheater, later growing to become something of a dark flame that would, over the course of the night, consume us all.

They took us back to 2003 yet again with a song that has risen to become one of the most timeless anthems of our generation, “Girl’s Not Grey.” A song that you know is meant to be sang from the absolute tippy top of the rooftops, and here in higher elevation, you knew it would be. This is a song that AFI fans can’t wait to sing along to, and this time around, they didn’t have to wait that long at all. Davey jumped on the base of his mic stand with both feet, and leaned at a diagonal with one hand raised high up into the air. Meanwhile, Jade Puget is kicking one leg out as he feverishly plays the guitar. On the other side of the stage is Hunter Burgan, who’s moving frantically backwards and forwards. His energy, along with everyone else’s on the stage is infectious. In the back but making his presence known is Adam Carson, who’s drumming like his life depends on it. This, in part, is why their shows are something you can’t help but marvel at. With years under their belt, these guys all know how to perform, but it doesn’t come off as rehearsed. Even in songs, like “Girl’s Not Grey,” which they’ve presumably performed hundreds, if not thousands, of times, they appeared as passionate as ever.

Though their set started off with a classic, AFI moved next to their recently released record, AFI (The Blood Album). However, given that this was a special occasion, they only played two tracks of their newest creation; Choosing “So Beneath You” and “Snow Cats” as its only representations. It was in moments like these that AFI’s performance really started to take off. A lot of movement took place on stage during “So Beneath You,” in particular, and the interaction between the members of AFI was amazing to witness. Davey and Jade, on numerous occasions, stood together on a riser, performing side by side. On a night like this, it was nice to see the bands enjoying these memorable, and sought-after, moments with not just their fans, but also one another. AFI (The Blood Album) despite being a young member of AFI’s discography, allowed the personality of the band and each member to shine with a few of its most stirring tracks.

More vivid memories were made as their set continued to explode with songs that featured many of the records released in their iconic career. Crash Love made some appearances in the set with “End Transmission” and “Beautiful Thieves.” Sing The Sorrow made its time in the light again four more times with “This Celluloid Dream,” “This Time Imperfect,” “Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings),” and “Silver And Cold,” as well as two outings off Burials with “17 crimes” and “I Hope You Suffer.” Those who’ve been with AFI since their earlier days were excited to hear a song, “The Days Of The Phoenix,” off The Art Of Drowning live. It was a highlight in their set, but nothing was able to top Davey Havok singing from the top of one of the rocks next to the stage. With an all-around solid playlist and a flawless stage presence, AFI set the bar for all the other tour’s that are set to come through this year.

Rounding out the set and closing the curtain on this surreal experience was an encore, including a thrilling cover of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again,” and one of their biggest hits off DECEMBERUNDERGROUND, “Miss Murder,” which sent chills down your spine. These provided an incendiary end to an already unbelievable experience. It goes to show that no matter how much time passes by, AFI are one of those bands that will never burn out. Matter of fact, with time, they just keep growing brighter.

Were you at AFI’s show at Red Rocks with Circa Survive and Citizen? Share your favorite moments with us in the comments!