The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Augustines does it ‘better’

Nestled upstairs in the House of Blues is the Cambridge Room. Dim lights glitter the gilded accents on its walls while concrete and wood frame the ceiling. Couches and mantles skirt the edges of the room and a bar sits opposite the stage. It’s the perfect clash of the modern city street and a home.

Although the indie-rock trio Augustines (formerly We Are Augustines) does not call Dallas home, they sure made it their own Wednesday night, despite missing one band member.

Bill McCarthy, singer and guitarist, stood on stage and explained that their third man, Eric Sanderson, had to attend to a family death. Rob Allen sat on his “box” on stage, nodding his head in salutary manner at McCarthy’s words.

“We had the option to cancel the tour, but we didn’t want to do that,” McCarthy said.

With a trademark look of something between contemplative concern and a humble smile, McCarthy plucked a few chords on his guitar as he spoke. McCarthy and Allen seemed similar in style, both wearing jeans, boots, charcoal tees. They were in sync as they started the show.

McCarthy and Allen soon set into the rhythm of their duet, quickly picking up speed with fingers on strings and palms on drums.

Augustines released their self-titled second album. Dallas was only the second stop of a four-month tour cross-country and overseas to promote the new album. Augustines was sure to play songs from both albums: the previous “Rise Ye Sunken Ships” and the current “Augustines.”

Past tragedy lingered on McCarthy’s lips as he sang lyrics from “Sunken Ships.” He didn’t hold back as he screamed and exhaled the weight of those words like those of song “Juarez:” “Lord I see red and it’s storming in my head…Lord I see red and I’m praying on my bed.”

Augustines is anything but a sunken ship, even when missing a band member for a show. McCarthy and Allen improvised well both with music and comedy.

McCarthy, while admittedly a little nervous being on tour without the rest of the band, was able to express himself and interact with the audience –– even if it meant a little “liquid encouragement.”

McCarthy confessed, “we brought a little whiskey up here,” holding up a handle of Jameson as Allen takes a sip from his own cup. Fittingly enough, McCarthy unknowingly has undertones of a Gerard Butler Scottish accent. With a hint of Scottish tone, a swig of Irish whiskey and English influence, this green-eyed fellow seems a friend to all.

In addition to Allen, the Britain-born drummer, there was an English lad in the audience who expressed his love
for Augustines.

“Come to London!” the young 20-something hollered from the back of the room.

“We’re coming, brother,” an appreciative and eager
McCarthy replied.

McCarthy mentioned his love for England, fondly reminiscing about how he always ends up “eating french fries after midnight.” He immediately corrected himself, saying, “I’m sorry, I mean chips. They’re not called fries over there.”

The audience laughed at McCarthy’s relatable confession of midnight snacking. Fellow band member Allen could
only smile.

Allen was born in London and in the land of many music greats. Augustines has recorded at Abbey Road Studios, what Allen considers to be “one of the best studios in the world.” The Beatles, Pink Floyd and others have all been there. For Augustines, though they may not be as well-known as the names just mentioned, Augustines is making its way around the world and back again. Fans are beginning to follow.

Lyrics from “Augustine,” another song from “Sunken Ships” resonated the room and echoed from the mouth of the audience: “Keep your head up kid. I know you can swim, but ya gotta move your legs.”

Augustines are continuing to prove just how much they’re swimming; swimming from a hurricane of emotion that flooded the pages of their lyrics and washed out into the sounds of their songs in “Sunken Ships;” swimming forward from the former “We Are Augustines” to the more profound and powerfully simple identity as “Augustines.”

Augustines’ followers are steadily on the rise, and there are those that will follow the band wherever they go. One couple drove from their home city of Minneapolis all the way to Dallas to see Augustines.

When I pointed this out to Allen, he said, “it’s flattering, it’s very meaningful…not many jobs offer that.”

When asked if there’s any specific message Augustines has to listeners, Allen said, “not so much of a message…more of a promise.” Allen explained that their promise as a band is to “always give 120 percent.”

Augustines proved that with their showing up as a duo instead of a trio, and performing acoustically like Texas Southerners do best.

There was an authentic acoustic moment when McCarthy pulled a crew member onstage: “Alex, come on up here.”

Alex, a late-teens/early-twenties guy clad in casual jeans and a plaid shirt hopped on stage and humbly walked McCarthy’s way. With a shy smile, the young crew member waited to see what McCarthy had planned for him. As McCarthy picked up and offered Alex a guitar, Alex’s shy smiled briefly parted as his lips absorbed a second of shock. His eyes lit up as he graciously accepted the moment’s opportunity being given. McCarthy hoped off stage to stand on a nearby speaker box, and Allen stood up from the drums to stand off to the side as well.

McCarthy counted down until Alex began strumming to “East Los Angeles,” another song from “Sunken Ships.”

Alex had his moment on stage and the night hung on the purity of an unplugged moment of a single guitar and a single voice.

The last song, “Now You Are Free,” was one from the new album. As McCarthy sang “Ya gotta let go. Let go of all your ghosts,” he closed the show in signifying a new start.

McCarthy said, “you guys paid for a rock show, and you guys got­…” trailing off in lack of a word to describe a very different show for Augustines. A woman in the audience, the female half of the Minneapolis couple that drove to Dallas for this show, filled in the blank and said, “better.”

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