You’d rather not say the band name Cigarettes After Sex out loud to your mother. Yet the dream pop band plays twice in a sold-out AFAS Live for an audience that largely consisted of young girls, so many could not ignore mom’s raised eyebrow. The band has recently released some new singles, including: Bubblegum is the most recent. On Thursday we heard it together with many other CAS classics
Photography Joyce van Doorn
It is dark in AFAS Live. Not because the lights are off and not as a statement of support for the ailing Ajax, which has to play football a little further away. It seems as if everyone in the room has heard the lyric ‘Think I like you best when you’re dressed in black from head to toe’ (from the hit K) took very literally.
Bob Dylan appears on stage at 8 p.m. Yes, Bob Dylan. Not in real life, but on the big screen. It is not entirely clear what the relationship is between Dylan and Cigarettes, but the audience thinks it’s cool and the smartphones immediately start flying. Dylan is alternated with a row of old stars who look uncomfortably down at the audience, then the band itself comes on stage. Also ‘ultra cool’, neatly adhering to the K.-dress code.
As soon as singer Greg Gonzalez (yes, he is a man, I found out quite late) enters the stage, the girl next to me shouts ‘dilf’ (the male version of ‘milf’) at the top of her voice. The crowd starts screaming like crazy. Gonzalez doesn’t respond and the band settles down Affection in.
It quickly becomes clear what kind of evening this is going to be. The sweet guitar sounds fill the room, the audience is put into a trance. Thanks to the cleverly placed spotlights on the stage, Gonzalez’s silhouette appears on the wall, which gives it all a mystical atmosphere. Even though the members are Americans, the band has something French about it. As if all the music was written in a small apartment in Paris, the sultry and sunsets woven into the lyrics.
Song after song is played, there is little audience interaction. But honestly: that’s completely fine. It’s nice that we don’t have to say that we like it. The ‘Harry Styles virus’, in which artists feel the enormous urge to cram as much audience interaction as possible into a show, has sometimes taken over a bit too much lately. The gentlemen of Cigarettes After Sex not only opt for quality, but also for quantity. Don’t talk, play.
All fan favorites are featured, the set list leaves no one behind. Very occasionally, Gonzalez interrupts the spectacle to tell him that he appreciates his audience. Remarkably, he has a very deep voice, while you could easily confuse his singing voice with that of a woman. If he does indeed smoke a cigarette after every sex session, he is busy, if his speaking voice is anything to go by.
During the bridge of Sweet If something goes wrong, the sound cuts out. A technical fault. However, this remains a great time for refused technology. Where Gonzalez would normally sing ‘I would gladly break my heart for you’, the audience takes over the line from him. It is beautiful how flawlessly the audience picks up the text, Gonzalez’s own sweet words are shouted back to him. Remarkably, the audience only has to sing the sentence twice and the problem is resolved, as if meant to be used to be.
The whole show is beautiful. No further comments, simply beautiful. No mosh pit, no confetti, no flame throwers, not even color (all visuals are in black and white), just beautiful music. During the day Apocalypse the disco ball, which has been hanging patiently above the band all along, finally gets a spotlight on it. Also fat: during Dreaming Of You a thick thunderstorm is projected on the screen, while the smoke machine blows a cloud into the hall. Cigarettes After Sex literally takes the audience into the storm. Man, what an effortlessly cool band.
Seen: November 9, 2023 in AFAS Live, Amsterdam