Review: We Are Augustines

We Are Augustines @ O2 Academy 2, Newcastle (05.10.12)

“Join a band, it’s the best fucking thing in the world,” bellows Billy McCarthy, lead singer of Brookyln-based We Are Augustines and leading contender for the most considerate frontman of the decade. In between his endearing deluge of thanks, he wins over the crowd with small talk about Newcy Brown (“wow so it actually comes from here?!”). As an audience, we seem all too accustomed to shelling out with the expectation of diva-ish, unappreciative bands, and it’s a heartening change to witness a group of guys doing something they evidently love, and with it expressing genuine gratitude to every single sweat-drenched, devoted ticket-payer in the packed full venue.

They’ve experienced their fair share of lows: following Billy’s schizophrenic brother tragically committing suicide came the demise of previous band Pela. After McCarthy reunited with Pela bassist Eric Sanderson, We Are Augustines rose from the ashes, earning themselves a rapidly flourishing following fuelled by their rocky road. With the highly emotive anthems of debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships under their belt, their live show brims with impassioned sing-alongs led by McCarthy’s grainy roar, ‘Book of James’ prompting crowd-wide accompaniments. The small, elongated venue was an odd match for these ballads, which seem fated to be met with pints in the air and teary eyes in stadium proportions. As the piano-led ‘Philadelphia (The City of Brotherly Love)’ started the encore, the audience were brought together in a state of optimistic bromance before the awaited ‘Chapel Song’, a mesmerising ditty with heaps of emotional baggage chronicled openly by Billy beforehand. With a refreshingly grateful outlook on their music, We Are Augustines are a thoroughly rewarding and inspiring band to catch live. As David Letterman put it when they performed on the Late Show, “life is an ocean and we are all ships, if your ship has sunk, don't despair, don't lose hope, rise ye sunken ships.”