Concert review: Augustana (2.4.12)

On Saturday, February 4, 9:30 club was packed for Augustana’s return with Graffiti 6 and Say Chance.

Say Chance is an all-girls trio from Baltimore, MD. The two vocalists, Maddie Freeman and Taylor Broom, had pipes and primary guitarist, Kelly Rosenthal, strummed with soul. Their EP is available on iTunes.

Graffiti 6 traveled all the way from the UK and recently released their album “Colours” in the US last month. The band has 5 members, Jamie Scott (vocals), TommyD (guitar), Pete Cherry (bass), Leonn Meade (drums) and Joe Glossop (keyboard). They were featured on VH1’s “You Oughtta Know” for March 2012.

This past summer, Augustana announced that they were parting ways a few weeks before their tour with Jack’s Mannequin and Guster.

Despite all the confusion, original lead singer, Dan Layus (piano, guitar) decided to stick with the band. David Lamorourex replaced John Vincent on drums and vocals, and Jordan Lamourex took Jared Palomar’s place on bass guitar and vocals, and added Jay Barclay on guitar.

The band first formed in 2002 and released their debut album, Midwest Skies and Sleepless Mondays in 2003. A year later, they created the Mayfield EP, limited to 25 copies. Before releasing their next album in 2005, some members dropped and others were added.

Off their first publicly released album All The Stars And Boulevards (2005), “Boston” and “Stars and Boulevards” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts and earned spots in the Top 40. From the next album, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt (2008), “Sweet and Low” and “I Still Ain’t Over You” received a fair share of radio play.

Augustana’s music is a beautiful blend of rock, folk and alternative with a slight country and gospel-like twang. Their songs vary, some will be soft, indie rock while others are hard and intense rock n roll. Their signature touch is their ability to transport listeners to the highways of California, driving in the blazing sun with the ocean in view.

The band played 25 songs, balanced between old, new, fast and slow. They performed classics like “Boston” and “Sweet and Low,” newer songs like “Shot In The Dark,” and “Steal Your Heart,” but also brand new songs like “The Easy Lessons Are the Hardest To Learn” and “Life Goes On.”

Layus struggled a bit in the beginning, not hitting all of the high notes and singer lower in songs like “Stars and Boulevards” and “Still Ain’t Over You” like he used to, but once he got midway through the set, he really came back and blew everyone way.

Halfway through the set, Layus conversed with the audience about his life, sharing that he’d been one year sober, was happily married to his wife and 3 children at 27 years old, and that everything with the band was going good and he’s still writing songs.

“With all the uncertainty I just want to let you know that everything is alright…Thank you so much for sticking with me, it means the world to me. I didn’t even know if you guys were still out there,” said Layus.

“Dust” was the best song performed. The whole band played with so much passion, so into the music that it seeped into the audience. It was an intense moment and practically possessed everyone.

Augustana happily ended the night with their new song “Alive,” leaving the crowd wanting more, yet satisfied at the same time.

This was a show that old fans should not compare to previous shows in the past because Layus really changed up the way he performed most of the older songs. It’s different, but it still sounds like the Augustana that fans have followed for the past seven years.

Ultimately, Layus is the face of Augustana now, but as long as he sticks with it, the band has the ability to keep going on strong.

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