It felt like a reunion at Bowery Ballroom when Augustines took the stage. Currently based in Seattle, the band is originally from Brooklyn, and it seems like their whole old neighborhood came out to support them. I stood in the middle of a group of these friends, and they were busting with pride, grinning ear to ear the entire show like the overjoyed parents of a kid that just graduated from high school three years early to go on to Harvard.
Their pride may have been biased but it wasn’t at all mismatched. Augustines’ friends have a lot to brag about. Billy McCarthy, Eric Sanderson and Rob Allen are one talented trio. More often than not; a rock band will be stronger in its songwriting, with music that rages so hard or is so uplifting or so catchy or so haunting, etc., that you don’t really notice (or if you do, you don’t really care) that the band isn’t exactly mind-blowing in the skill department. They’re good, sure, but it’s their songs and their energy that make you love them. Augustines have those really well written songs, rowdy at times and moving at others, and they have that energy – but they also bring incredible talent. They are masters of their instruments, and McCarthy knows just what to do with his deep, booming yet ever-so-slightly hoarse voice at every second. His toning is downright beautiful, and makes the band’s heavier songs all the more powerful.
It’s hard to say whether the crowd was feeding off of the band’s energy or vice versa, or maybe it was just a perfect cycle. But Augustines do have a reputation for interacting with their audiences. McCarthy got conversational a few times, yes, but the interaction was even more deeply entrenched in the band’s entire performance. They lock eyes with audience members and make the kinds of faces you make when you need to tell an entire joke or tell someone to listen to something without being able to speak.
But the party really comes at the end of the show. Up until that point, you’ve been getting swept away by painfully pretty yet heavy, hard-hitting songs like “Chapel Song” and “The City of Brotherly Love.” You’re feeling the energy radiating back and forth between the band and the crowd. But at the end is where there’s a kind of combustion. Augustines take their encore into the crowd and perform a couple of songs right in the middle of an audience crushing in to get close to these hometown heroes. You suddenly feel like you’re at a party with all your friends (and all their friends, and all their friends) and you happen to know this amazing band and they’re playing right in your living room. And just as you’re reeling in how intimate it can somehow feel with this crowd around you, McCarthy rallies everyone to march out onto the street, where they finish up their encore. You feel like you’re part of some kind of revolution as you all spill out of the venue, like you’re taking some kind of stand and demanding that rock and roll is all that matters. To prove it, you’re going to interrupt life for anyone walking down Delancey Street on a Monday night. Everyone seemed conscious of the fact that something really special was happening as McCarthy’s voice boomed over the Bowery, and all seemed pretty confident that if anyone could convince passersby that indeed rock and roll is all that matters, it’s Augustines.
Article by: Courtney Iseman
Photos by: Jenna Pinch
If you enjoyed this article you also may like this awesome Whiskey Session we did with Augustines!