Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Heart-warming music on a cold night
Friday night, in the midst of a chilly snowpacked weekend, I picked up my friend Valery and we headed downtown to see an acoustic show from the band Augustana. I'd (briefly) seen them in concert many years ago at the U as part of a show with several other bands, and there were some issues with the sound and on the whole they didn't get much of a chance to put on a decent show.
This time it turned out that an acoustic show included just the lead singer (Dan Layus) and another guy (Dave). From what I've read on Wikipedia since the show, it looks like the original band is not playing together right now and Dan is just out doing his own thing with a few new guys, Dave being one of them.
For some reason a few jerks thought it would be cool if they took some chairs and set them up on the dance floor in front of the stage while waiting for the show to start. Obviously they'd be asked to move the chairs so not sure what they were thinking, but I suggested to Val that since we'd probably be standing for the show, we might as well stand in the front, so we went and stood in front of the folks on chairs, and actually ended up sitting on the front of the stage for a bit while we waited. In any case it resulted in our having a great spot to enjoy the show from, and for me to put my new camera to further use.
A girl (Lauren Shera) opened the show and had a nice voice and played the guitar well, but none of her songs really stuck with me. Probably would have helped if they'd turned up her vocals a bit more so we could hear her better over her guitar. She played 8 or 9 songs I think.
Dan and Dave came out and did a few set up things (including Dan taping lyrics for several new songs to the stage and floor speakers), then disappeared for a few minutes (Val and I were wondering if its like a team warming up before a game and then going back into the locker room for one last pep talk. Don't know.) before returning to put on a fabulous show.
On the whole they played over 20 songs, with Dan mostly playing guitar (and sometimes the harmonica as well) and singing, and Dave accompanying on the piano. A few times Dan went to the piano and Dave played some accordion.
Dan started the night not talking much, but after a half an hour or so, he seemed to warm up to us, and shared stories of braving the icy roads driving down from Boise that day. He seemed very grateful that we'd come out to see the show and talked several times about how he's been sober for 2 years now and you could tell from the emotion in his songs that he's very happy with being a family man. He had several new songs that mentioned his wife and kids and his own personal "comeback story".
I was able to get good videos of Augustana's two biggest commercial successes, "Boston" and "Sweet and Low" (the new camera shoots in 1080p):
Worth watching (or skipping) to the end for some kind words for us "good people" who'd come out to see the show.
One song I didn't record but that I loved was a new one called "Love in the Air", that was just upbeat and happy and also featured some high falsetto backup vocals from Dave that had everyone chuckling. Luckily someone else recorded a very similar rendition at a different show and posted it on YouTube. Hopefully whenever they get this song recorded and released it sounds a lot like this:
A little grin from Dan
I wasn't sure if they'd do an encore at such a small, intimate show, but after lots of cheers and requests, Dan opened up his guitar case again, scolded us playfully for not being satisfied with 20+ acoustic songs, and sang one last song. Definitely a fantastic show, and at $15, a relative steal. I'd definitely pay to see them again.