PHOTOS: American Football projects introspective tone at GAMH

American Football performs at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on May 13 2019. Photos: Joaquin Cabello.

SAN FRANCISCO — Midwest emo rockers American Football presented the dazzling sounds of their new album to a packed Great American Music Hall on Monday. The sold-out show was full of reverb guitar lattices, fractious rhythms and unrestrained vocals, mixed with shoegaze and post-rock that evoked different vibes and emotions.

American Football, Mike Kinsella, Owen

American Football performs at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on May 13 2019.

Mike Kinsella and company began with the shimmery xylophone sounds of “Silhouettes,” and “Every Wave to Ever Rise,” which featured a duet between Kinsella and opening band Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin. Two songs from 2016’s LP2 followed: “My Instincts Are the Enemy” and “Give Me the Gun.”

American Football went on to play a concise show, getting straight into every song’s heart-wrenching arrangement. Xylophones and trumpet solos often accompanied the band’s melancholy opening guitar riffs, creating an immersive and emotive atmosphere. After revisiting “Honestly?” off the 1999 self-titled album, the band brought on the same vibe with LP3‘s “Heir Apparent” before jumping back to another old favorite, “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional.”

“Uncomfortably Numb,” “I Can’t Feel You” and the fan favorite “Never Meant” brought all the raw emotions to an even greater level—sonic textures like multipart vocals, atmospheric soundscapes and pensive guitar riffs, demonstrated the band’s virtuosity.

Illuminati Hotties, Sarah Tudzin

Illuminati Hotties perform at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on May 13 2019.

Heavy in arpeggios, melodies and a lot of reverb, American Football projected an introspective space that matched the thoughtfulness of its music. The quiet moments leading into each song would sometimes be interrupted by overeager concertgoers, which prompted the band to restart the intro to “Stay Home” a couple of times. Another fan yelled during the second go at the song, to which Kinsella remarked, “You didn’t need to shout again.”

With that, the band was able to finish strong, closing the show with a contemplative sonic environment that so rightfully defines an American Football show.

Angelenos lluminati Hotties opened the show with a set of what Sarah Tudzin calls “tenderpunk,” a blend of fast-paced indie pop and surf rock. Tudzin and the band erupted with a lot of enthusiasm dictated by their indie pop canons.

Their lively sound was present on cuts like “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” “For Cheez (My Friend Not the Food),” “Patience” and “Cuff.”

Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at

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