Monday, September 29, 2014

Augustines at the Bowery Ballroom

Augustines concluded the show unplugged
on the sidewalk outside the venue
After the breakup of their former band, Pela, in August 2009, vocalist/guitarist Billy McCarthy and multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson formed Augustines, originally based in Brooklyn, New York, and now in Seattle, Washington. The band derived its name from the month of August, as both McCarthy and Sanderson were born in that month. Other bands had the same or similar names, so McCarthy and Sanderson changed the moniker to We Are Augustines before the release of their first album in 2011, but returned to Augustines in August 2013. With the addition of drummer Rob Allen, the band became a trio. The band's self-titled second album was released on February 4, 2014.

Augustines returned home to New York for a headlining show at the Bowery Ballroom tonight. With a series of songs that started with a crescendo and built higher, Augustines brought the energy of Bruce Springsteen and U2 to pendulum-like melodies and story-lyrics that sometimes sounded like they originated as sea shanties. After the opening song, "Headlong into the Abyss," McCarthy told the audience, "It’s good to be home. We’re going the distance." From then on, it became a house party, as McCarthy gave shout-outs to friends in the audience. A few songs in, after "Cruel City," McCarthy offered an apology: "I might say some bad things about this town in the songs, but I got love for you all." McCarthy sang with a husky yet yearning voice and Sanderson filled out the chiming sound on keyboards, synthesizers and bass with Allen forcing the adrenalin-fueled rhythm on drums. The songs could be so intense that the audience's response with chants of "whoa-whoa" felt like a release. The band concluded the two-hour show unplugged in the audience and then several more songs on the Delancey Street sidewalk next door to the ballroom.

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