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In a sold-out show, AFI validates the buzz

AFI got a resumé boost when its ``Decemberunderground" album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart in the top spot earlier this month.

Before the record was even released, tickets for the Goth-punk band's Tuesday performance at Avalon -- as well as several other dates on its nationwide tour -- sold out almost immediately.

It's taken the group 15 years and seven albums to claw its way onto the charts. Luckily, AFI started early, in high school, with plenty of time to hone its raw punk into mature songs. Amazingly, the band members did it without losing their ferocity or Gothy disaffection.

No wonder AFI's bristling 90-minute performance at Avalon felt like a victory lap, its now scattershot artistic vision jumping from hardcore to pop punk to Goth balladry.

The genre jumble was matched by the animated stage play of vocalist Davey Havok, guitarist Jade Puget, and bassist Hunter .

For the haunted ``Prelude 12/21" and ``This Time Imperfect," the pace slowed and Havok's voice lowered to a murmur. But mostly, he made use of his death rattle snarl and sweet tenor.

The crowd sang along to it all, including the anthem ``Miss Murder," a slice of pure emo, and ``Kill Caustic," a maelstrom of thrashing hardcore with an infectious pop chorus.

Openers Dillinger Escape Plan offered the crowd only snarling hardcore leavened occasionally by an experimental-noise guitar line.

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