The first weekend of Mardi Gras 2014 will be one of my most memorable ever. New Orleans has a steep musical history, and that Friday night last month that history practically fed the Augustines’ performance at the Parish. Throughout the evening Billy McCarthy gushed on about his love of the city and how magical the music was. He was beyond humble to be playing in a city with such a definable musical personality.
The show itself, on the surface, could have been quite underwhelming as the band’s bass player Eric Sanderson had to leave the tour to take care of a family emergency, but Billy and drummer Rob Allen took the opportunity to strip down and reimagine the band’s material.
The evening was a glorified VH1 Storytellers kind of evening. Billy played his acoustic guitar with such passion and intensity, appearing to be lost in his own world. The audience was all-too-happy to come along on the journey. At one point in the show, Billy had their guitar tech Alex come out and accompany him on a couple of tracks to widen the dynamic.
Augustines are touring on this year’s self-titled album and enjoying the idea of reclaiming their former name, hence the self-titled album. The set was comprised of material from that album and their debut LP. The evening ended with the band breaking the forth wall and in true New Orleans street performer style playing “Book of James” right in front of the stage in the audience.
Billy and company truly are lost without their band mate Eric, but did their best to overcome extraordinary circumstances. Billy tweeted, “New Orleans. Tonight to me was better than playing on TV. I’m moved to tears. This is a music town and your reception validates my journey-b.” I had two cathartic moments during this memorable Mardi Gras weekend: hearing Neutral Milk Hotel preform “Two-Headed Boy Part Two” at the Civic and this entire Augustines set.