STEREOPHONICS + Augustana @ Cabaret

By Antonella F. - The Siamese Libertines - 05/15/2005

What happens when you combine the melodic introspection of newbies Augustana with the raw jocosity of veterans Stereophonics? A gratifying show for both mind and matter.

Since I had never heard of opening band Augustana, I contented myself to sit nestled in a corner and watch from the sidelines with pen and notepad in hand. As soon as the quartet from San Diego began their set, however, I felt compelled –- in a way I’ve never been -– to leave my seat and walk towards the stage to join an equally-mesmerized crowd. I was immediately captivated by the beauty radiating from singer Dan Layus. Not only in his attractiveness, but in the way he channeled songs to the audience. His halcyon voice coupled with his schoolboy charm gave relevance and candor to the emotion in their music. Bolstered by orchestration that was atmospheric yet polished, Augustana managed to be passionate without excessive sentimentality. With the naturalness of the band’s performance, one wouldn’t immediately assume these boys hadn’t even released their first album yet. Enchanted by the road-tripping, reflective sounds of “Stars and Boulevards”, “Wasteland”, “Boston” and “Hotel Roosevelt”, I almost forgot that this was still the opening act. To enrich the experience even more, Layus invited the audience to free band EPs after the show, where I had the opportunity to commend the soft-spoken frontman in person.

The gears shifted from wistful to corporeal the minute vocalist Kelly Jones and his crew hit the stage. Kicking off the show with “Superman”, Stereophonics set the precedent for a concert with high energy and virility. Jones’ swagger and perfectly abrasive vocals atop bluesy rhythms fashioned a sexy edge that was sustained throughout the rest of the evening. The band played the best from Word Gets Around through Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, rocking the crowd with the likes of “Thousand Trees”, “Just Looking”, “Rewind” and “Brother” -- I have never seen so many people air-guitaring in the same room. In addition to just enjoying Stereophonics’ performance, it was a delight to hear the singer’s fun, anecdotal introductions to the songs -- especially when he provided explanation of the Welsh expression for their song titled “Check My Eyelids For Holes”.

It may be an exception when two bands with divergent styles and sensibilities complement each other to create an all-around entertaining show, but that evening at Le Cabaret, Augustana and Stereophonics did just that.

[Tune into The Siamese Libertines every Thursday from 4pm-6pm]