Wednesday night I went with my family to the Bluebird Theatre in Denver to see Augustana.
I’ve written about them before. They’re my favorite band that (almost) no one has ever heard of.
When I last saw them, it was June and I was there for my birthday. Since then, the band broke up. I was devastated by the news — no more music from these talented guys? But the scanty information available was reassuring: lead singer Daniel Layus was going to try to keep it going and the band, in some form, was going to fulfill its contractual obligations to play gigs. Including January 25, 2012, in Denver.
It is clear, after last night, that Dan was and is the heart and soul of Augustana. It is his personality that propels the performance, giving it honesty, passion, and intimacy. I was thrilled that the set included new songs which sounded like vintage Augustana. Dan promised that somehow, in some form, this music will get out into the world, hopefully in a CD. I can only hope that he will be able to fulfill that promise. One song in particular, “Sunshine,” is still in my blood even though I can only remember snippets of the lyrics and the melody is entirely gone. Something like “shade in the moonlight,” and “right at the wrong time:” playing with opposition the way Augustana — OK, Dan — does so well.
And you have got to love a man who is so devoted to his family. How many rock stars get up on stage and talk about spending time at home changing diapers, or change the lyrics of a song to reflect how much he misses his wife when he’s on the road? At the last concert we were at, he bragged about how beautifully his teenage daughter is growing up before launching into a song he wrote for her. Maybe that’s not going to score him big points with some audiences, but it definitely makes me feel good about him.
I also want to mention the opening act, Graffiti 6. I had never heard them before (my kids had) although I had heard of them, and I absolutely fell in love. The lead singer’s voice had such wonderful purity and clarity, and his falsetto was amazing. The group’s harmonies was beautiful, and their songs were addictive and fun. My daughter bought the CD and got the lead singer’s autograph in the break between sets. And as she confirmed after she met him, “He’s British, which just automatically makes him cooler.”
So there you go. Two amazing bands that need to be getting more play. Check them out if they happen to come to a venue near you, and by all means, buy their music.