Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Band of Skulls; We Are Augustines @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Band of Skulls; We Are Augustines
@ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY - March 27, 2012

I came for the opener. But I stayed...for the opener.

To date, We Are Augustines are responsible for my favorite album of the last year and maybe of the last few. The post-Pela project led by Billy McCarthy is an unabashed, unapologetic power trio, not afraid to wear heart on sleeves while at the same time avoiding the traps of being corn ball. Introspective Meditations are the hardest things to pull off in Rock.It is a near impossible task. Because it is so easy to sound like a whinging dolt, the kind of suburban garbage that led to the Fall of Rock n Roll in the last couple decades, most are just better off deferring to the punk, garage, and original rock n' roll sounds that kept us pure and happy.

Perhaps We Are Augustines succeed because they have the spirit and energy of three chords and a "1, 2, 3 4!" while blaring out their sound. This is going to be blunt: Think of U2 on their Best Day. Think of how much the National have been written about in this rag. We Are Augustines match and maybe outmatch the former (woah daddy). They deserve the success of the latter (certainly).

From the moment they started with "Book of James" and through "Juarez" and "Headlong into the Abyss" and to the end, as they wound their way through Rise Ye Sunken Ships, the band did exactly what they should have done live with their record. They took one sharp turn, doing a piano ballad version of what may be their best song, "Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love)", the exact kind of experiment that a band that plays to thousands would do. And they were right to do it.

The effusive joy from the We Are Augustines set had me ready to discover Band of Skulls. I thought I had them pegged early when these 70's Americana-Rock looking Brits did sludgy dirges like "Sweet Sour" at the start. But when they switched up to disco rock and 80's Queen-style rock, and did both with an extremely fined polish, I saw what was really happening. After about 6 or 7 songs, the jig was up. This was a general tribute band to the popular sounds of 1975-1983. Their professionalism noted (and I'm a sucker for disco beats when done by an actual drum kit), I think I could see right through this thing.


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