By Callum Thornhill (@Cal_Thornhill)
Seventeen years in the making, LP2 was released last year to both the eagerness and wariness of fans of the Illinois math rockers. Since then, they have played around the world reliving their 1999 glory days with riff laden ambient brilliance such as For Sure and The Summer Ends. On Sunday (3 September), Edinburgh’s beautifully intimate Summerhall hosted the final mainland UK show via Brighton and Manchester – it was the first time Kinsella and co. had played a ‘proper’ tour since May 2015 when they built up to stellar Reading and Leeds Festival shows.
The first time the newer tracks were played on British soil was earlier this year with a magical performance at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire which, to be honest, set a bar so high that it was near impossible to replicate it in such a tiny space. Everything was stripped bare; the iconic backdrop of the Champaign-Urbana property wasn’t there, the support band was Mike Kinsella playing tracks from his Owen collection and the venue seemed to just throw everything together and put the instruments and equipment on stage.
Musically, the set featured pretty much everything American Football have ever released, which would be a more impressive statement if they had more than two albums, but nevertheless it meant that no one left the venue mumbling “I wish they played ___.” Instead, everyone was in high spirits and an impromptu “Here we, here we, here we fucking go,” was attempted by the rowdier section of the packed out audience.
What was most striking about the whole performance, though, was the order of the setlist. Previously playing the whole of LP2 in order then coming back on to play an encore of classics from 1999; this method was not replicated and instead everything was jumbled. Where Are We Now? merged into You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon which throws you off after rinsing their albums and expecting a certain order. This wasn’t a bad thing and it was intriguing to see how their debut and follow up would work together in a set.
It was, of course, their most iconic hit, Never Meant that closed the set before setting out to Dublin and then back to the USA for another short run of shows. A singalong classic given a new lease of life every time THAT opening riff is played, Never Meant is the tune that American Football‘s cult fans in Old Skool Vans, turned up jeans and flannel shirts want to hear.