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Augustana And The Maine Rock Out At The Sunset House Of Blues

Brianne Walker |
June 17, 2011 | 5:11 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


 Brianne Walker.
Brianne Walker.

San Diego rock band Augustana performed at the House of Blues Wednesday, one of the last stops of the group's United States tour with fellow headliners The Maine.

To open the show, Austin Gibbs pumped up the crowd with four songs from his recently released album titled “Charlie.” The alternative rocker got up on stage, without much introduction of himself or his fellow band members, and immediately dove into his signature rowdy, loud style. 

His high energy on stage of convulsing and bobbing, and his raw and rough voice engaged the audience, who moved its hands up and down in rhythm and in response to his beats. The audience sung along to Gibbs' catchy lyrics, especially to the southern and modern rock track titled “La La La.” To further exhibit his musical talents, Gibbs illustrated a softer side with a more acoustic song titled “Sierra the Serial Killer” that largely features his screeching but harmonious voice.

Following Gibbs was the first headliner, rock infused pop-punk band The Maine. Prior to taking the stage, a huge flag of the state of Arizona dropped from the ceiling, as the backdrop for the group's performance. The group - originally from Phoenix, Arizona - performed mostly tracks from its 2010 album, “Black & White,” and fan favorites from its 2008 album titled “Can't Stop, Won't Stop.” 

 Brianne Walker.
Brianne Walker.

The songs performed displayed both the generic pop-rock tone of The Maine, along with a somewhat more mature side of the group. The melancholy tone of the tracks “Growing Up” and “Inside of You” still, though, caused the audience to sing along. 

What was evident from the group's performance were its skills at delivering solid, catchy tracks and grabbing the audience's attention. Lead singer John O'Callaghan conversed much with the audience (even asking for chapstick) and handed the microphone to a fan so she could sing a few lines of the song “Girls Do What They Want.” And, his mood did not dampen during the band's forty minute set, despite getting hit by both a tampon and CapriSun that were thrown by audience members. 

The most anticipated performance, co-headliner Augustana, was definitely worth the approximately four hour wait. The band started off the night with a slowed-down version of the song “Either Way, I'll Break Your Heart Someday,” but that softer mood dissipated throughout the night. Augustana's 20-song set list comprised of tunes from its sophomore album “Can't Hurt, Can't Love” and their third and most recent album “Augustana.” 

 Brianne Walker.
Brianne Walker.

Lead singer Dan Layus blew everyone away. His heart-wrenching alto pitch brought out the more folk rock sound of the group. Also, the harmonica was a feature throughout the night, giving all audience members a new or greater appreciation for country music.

The band overall illustrated its versatility in genres, as “Hurricane” and “Borrowed Time” possess a more country/blue-grass sound, while “Wrong Side of Love” has a more strict rock tone.


Layus gave a shout-out to the young, up-and-coming singer Greyson Chance before performing “Fire.” 

Nearing the end of the show, Layus invited The Maine and Austin Gibbs onstage to perform a Tom Petty song, before singing the group's popular hit “Boston.” During that song, it was clear that all of the bands were both enjoying themselves and enjoying playing for their fans, in addition to their love of music.

Augustana closed the night with a slower version of the song “Counting Stars,” but the change in tempo from the album version equally pleased the audience. The song has a similar piano and vocal passion that's present also in “Boston.”

At the end of the show, Augustana seemed to sound better live than on its album version. All band members performed their hearts out, overcoming that difficult challenge bands face of sounding equal (or maybe even better) than their original record. 

All of these bands are “Ones to Watch” (the name of the tour by sponsor LG), as they each put out outstanding performances.

Reach reporter Brianne Walker here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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