May 10, 2012, 4:29 am
Review of Augustana concert in Eugene, OR by Cynthia Orlando.
Augustana shows staying power, steals some hearts at Eugene's WOW Hall
In spite of being dropped from Epic records last fall, California-based Augustana delivered a solid performance before an enthusiastic and mostly young crowd at Eugene's Wow Hall Wednesday night. The hallmarks of this heartland rock band are the earnest vocals and consistently strong songwriting skills of their 27 year-old lead singer-songwriter Dan Layus, who cites Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as among his inspirations.
Augustana performed songs from all four of their CD’s at Wednesday night's show, eliciting boatloads of audience adoration, particularly during the hit singles “Steal Your Heart,” “Sweet and Low,” and especially, “Boston.” From last year's self-titled CD the crowd was treated to "On the Other Side," "Counting Stars" and "Just Stay Here Tonight," and both "Wrong Side of Love" and "Shot in the Dark" were performed with such bravado and finesse, they'd have fit right into a live CD recording. Great performance, guys, especially "Shot in the Dark." "Hurricane" was also included, along with Layus's trademark harmonica.
And would it truly be an Augustana show if the audience didn't sing-a-long to "Boston"? It's funny to think lead singer Layus wrote it as a teenager. From their 2005 "All the Stars and Boulevards," the track was later used on an episode of "Scrubs," after which "All the Stars" was re-released, finally hitting the charts on Billboard. It remains one of their most popular in-concert songs with remarkable staying power, always eliciting lively reactions from fans as it did at Wednesday night's show. Augustana issued their third CD "Can't Love, Can't Hurt" in 2008. Much to the delight of fans, they performed "Sweet and Low" - the hit single from that album that KINK listeners know and love - at Wednesday night's show.
Much-missed was Justin South's drumming on the crescendo, but maybe the new drummer can work on that. Augustana band members are: Dan Layus (vocals, guitar, piano), Jordan Lamoureux (bass guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jay Barclay (guitar) and David Lamoureux (drums, keyboards, mandolin, vocals) who replaces drummer Justin South - one of two members who parted ways with the band last fall.
Greylag, a folk-indie band from Portland, opened for Augustana and were well-received. Also, lets here it for Eugene. The sound system at the WOW Hall was good - at times, powerful - and definitely an improvement over sound at their last Portland show at Doug-fir lounge. Also, a "tip-o-the-hat" to the audience for being both well-mannered and enthusiastic.
Is Augustana's popularity waning, and will they survive the latest shakeups? Well, let's see. In the past, they've performed on both Jay Leno and more recently, David Letterman. Their fans tweet about their concerts daily (one fan even posted recently about flying from Japan to Vancouver to catch a show), there are whole Blogs dedicated to Augustana, and department stores still pipe in their songs.
Let's hazard a guess a new label will sign them up, and most likely it's not an "if," but a "when," kind-of-a-thing. See them live or buy their music for yourself or a friend - especially their newest CD, which has nary a bad track on it.
iTunes has a good selection, as well.
Augustana sings "Shot in the Dark" Live in the Bing Lounge - more videos
Thank you to Cynthia Orlando. Check out more at Twitter @CynthiaOrlando
~ Dave Scott