By Julia Stryj
May 10, 2012
When I first heard about We Are Augustines and their tough past as individuals and the struggle towards the end of their previous band Pela, I was instantly amazed by the band’s determination and passion. Their surprisingly uplifting – considering it deals with a lot of the bumps that were on singer Billy McCarthy’s road – debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships is constantly being listened to. Driving through the never ending rain to Glasgow to see them on their first proper headline tour since the album’s release in the UK, I find out that the support band is on at 19:45. That means a relaxed dinner is replaced by a quick take away as I don’t want to miss My Goodness.
Before the guys from Seattle come on stage Beastie Boys are played through the sound system, an obvious tribute to MCA. As soon as My Goodness start playing it’s clear to see and hear why the two-piece are compared to The Black Keys. Singer and guitar player Joel Schneider and drummer Ethan Jacobsen are playing raw Blues Rock’n’Roll in an incredibly loud and controlled way, but it’s still a lot livelier than The Black Keys.
It is a very nice touch that We Are Augustines watch their support act from the back of the audience, and I wonder how much longer they will be able to do this with hardly anybody in the audience noticing or recognising them.
The sold out ABC is filling up, which is great considering the gig was initially planned for a smaller venue, before We Are Augustines walk on stage to their ‘Instrumental’ song. They get right into their set, which covers the whole album plus the song Rise Ye Sunken Ships. After the first two songs most of the audience is infected by the band’s passion and soon it isn’t only the choruses that they are singing back.
This seems to give the already highly charged Brooklyn band even more energy for every song, culminating in ‘Book of James’ that singer Billy McCarthy introduces as a happy song even though it deals with the suicide of his brother James. The audience is doing as they are told and sing and dance along to the incredibly powerful song.
Billy, who keeps saying that he does not want the gig to end, is visibly overwhelmed by the reaction they get from the audience. Before he plays a wonderful version of ‘East Los Angeles’ on his own he tells us that we should never give up on anything we are passionate about referring to Eric and him having played for 10 years together and as We Are Augustines for a little over a year.
Rob Allen and Eric Sanderson return back to their instruments to perform their last two energetic songs, finishing off with ‘Chapel Song’. By that time Billy and Eric are continuously at the front of the stage to be closer to the enthusiastic audience and Eric ends up doing his first stage dive, smiling and playing the guitar while the crowd carried him back to the stage. This sparked Rob Allen on into a powerful drum “solo”, accompanied by Billy’s guitar, and Eric on keyboards, turning the 3-minute single into a 6-minute climax of an unforgettable gig.
All photos by Julia Stryj. More of Julia’s work can be found here.