Dan Layus of Augustana (All photos and videos by Bebe Besch)
The last year hasn’t been an easy one for the San Diego band Augustana. The band was dropped from major record label Epic Records after their third album and self-titled release received the lowest sales numbers the band had ever seen, and shortly thereafter the band began canceling tour dates along their supporting tour with Jack’s Mannequin. A follow-up announcement was made that most of the original band members were separating from the band’s lineup. This confused press and fans who dubbed the band “broken-up,” but front man and founder Dan Layus insisted that the work of Augustana was far from over. Layus announced US tour dates for this winter and the fourth stop along this tour for the band was last Saturday night at The Crocodile.
After visually sampling the crowd at The Crocodile, the bittersweet atmosphere hit hard. Augustana has been delivering music for nearly a decade, so when looking past the center of the audience something unheard of was noticeable; open space. The last time Augustana played a show in Seattle it was at The Showbox at The Market, and instead, here we were, sharing the luxury of watching Augustana play in the intimate walls of The Crocodile, all with empty floor room that fans once would have occupied. The awkwardness was felt, at least from longtime fans like myself, all until the moment Augustana took the stage in front of us.
Dan Layus and team quietly took their positions on The Crocodile’s stage and opened with one of their most emotionally stunning songs: “Hey Now,” from their second album Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt. Relief ensued after Layus and bandmates played through the song’s chords – tonight Augustana would deliver as we were hoping, regardless of the lineup. And while the presence of members like Jared Palomar on bass and Justin South on drums were missed, in their places were equally qualified musicians that were not so unfamiliar with Augustana themselves. On drums instead were the talents of David Lamoureux, who previously toured and recorded with Augustana on keys from 2005-2007. Sharing the stage with him was his younger brother Jordan Lamoureux on bass, and fellow The Damnwells musician Jay Barclay on electric guitar.
Their composure as a quartet was impressive as they made their way through an extensive list of songs. Layus told the crowd how happy and surprised he was so see their support and that instead of talking much throughout the night he was going to try to play more of the music we came to hear. As promised, the setlist was filled with a mixture of songs off of the band’s three albums, as well as four brand new offerings. In all, Augustana played nearly two hours of material, with a setlist that had been printed on two separate pages taped together due to length. The mixture of old and new was well paced, and Augustana re-worked the styling of a few of their older tunes, including Layus’ vocal arrangements on most songs as well as adding a full band’s sound on softer favorites like “Fire,” which originally only had Layus singing and playing on piano.
The four new songs: “The Easy Lessons Are the Hardest to Learn,” “Like a Whisper,” “Sunshine,” and closing song, “Alive,” were all welcome amongst audience members as Layus asked for our attention. He apologized for closing the performance on a new song, said that maybe we’ll see Augustana touring next with a furutre album, and began to strum his tan guitar. Layus noticed that one of the sheets he’d taped to the stage with lyrics had been torn and taken by someone in the front row of stage right. He politely asked for those lyrics back, but they were nowhere to be found. Layus laughed and smiled with his eyes closed. Little worries couldn’t falter the artist; he soon performed, as far as we could tell, a flawless delivery of the new song. A small hiccup like the stolen lyrics couldn’t hinder the night’s performance as both the crowd and band fully appreciated each other’s company and positive recovery after the dramatic year. In Augustana’s song “Sweet and Low,” their lyrics describe down times and pushing through them with, “The rain is gonna fall, the sun is gonna shine/The wind is gonna blow, the water’s gonna rise…But no one’s giving up quite yet, we’ve got too much to lose”. Here’s to Augustana’s second wind.
1. Hey Now
2. Last Mistake
3. Somebody’s Baby
4. Stars and Boulevards
5. Sweet and Low
6. Either Way, I’ll Break Your Heart Someday
7. 20 Years
8. Shot In the Dark
9. You Were Made For Me
10. The Easy Lessons Are the Hardest to Learn
12. Borrowed Time
13. I Still Ain’t Over You
14. Counting Stars
18. Like a Whisper
19. Just Stay here
21. Wrong Side of Love
23. Steal Your Heart
The openers from London, calling themselves Graffiti6, baffled the audience with their genre-merging tunes. “Pop” and “rock” are far too vaguely used descriptions for their sound, which was developed by the duo Jamie Scott (singer/songwriter) and TommyD (producer/songwriter). With the help of their three other bandmates, many influences emerged throughout their vibrant set, with hints of reggae and even soul mixed in.
Taking center stage for Graffiti6 was Jamie Scoot, whose vocals rang loudest. His charming voice was delivered smoothly, sounding very similar to Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), but with modesty. The combination of his compelling vocals and the upbeat tempo of their songs had the audience bobbing along, with even a few in the crowd grabbing a partner to dance. Many of the uplifting songs Graffiti6 performed on Saturday can be found on their latest album Colours, which was just released in the US yesterday!
See videos and more photos from the performance below: