I was a little surprised to learn that the show had sold out and even more surprised to see a line around the block. As I waited in line to get my photopass (thanks to Amanda at the label and Tony, Vega4's tour manager for making that happen), a very upset girl was behind my crying her eyes out, I think because she had to check her camera. House of Blues is super strict on cameras, which in some ways is understandable but in some ways just a little too restrictive, but they gotta do what they gotta do, I guess. I have written quite unfavorably about the House of Blues in the past, but I have to say my experience Saturday night was stellar and I have no complaints whatsoever. For one, the venue has finally loosened up and gives hand stamps at the door, allowing exiting and re-entry into the venue. This is something they should’ve done ages ago. It allows people to escape the crowded upstairs bar in the venue (it was an all ages show, so no drinks were sold downstairs) and buy a real drink in the main bar. Of course, you can’t take it out of the bar, but it was nice to have somewhere to go instead of just staring at the curtain until the band came out.
Vega4 opened the show and they were nothing short of amazing. I predict success for them on the level of Snow Patrol and I don’t think it’ll take them two albums to get there.
Their anthemic songs had the crowd captivated and, considering their album is currently only available by download or for sale at their shows, that is no small feat when performing mostly unknown music to a new audience. Their stage presence was equally as captivating. It almost made them seem overpolished, but considering it was the end of their tour, maybe the road experience and their career in Europe gives them that experienced flair.
Their set was pretty short, but thoroughly entertaining.It was cool when Augustana came onstage during a song to deliver gag gifts as happens when a tour comes to an end.
For their final song, they did the full version of Life is Beautiful with all band members going into the final singalong "It's amazing where I'm standing/There's a lot that we can give/This is ours, just for a moment/There's a lot that we can give." The song is pretty uplifting, like the light when one has a really dark day. To close, the singer jumped into the crowd and sang from the floor walking almost all the way back to the sound guy. Absolutely amazing.
I took shoddy notes, but I have the setlist as follows:
Tearing Me Apart
You and Me (This is when Augustana came out)
Life is Beautiful (assisted by the keyboardist from Augustana
In between bands I went up to the main bar where some band was playing covers in Salvation Alley and people were lined up for the sidestage show of Amiina, the string section for Sigur Ros. House of Blues should make use of their space and capacity like this more frequently. I saw the bassist and drummer from Vega4 and they’ve already got summer dates lined up for the states, so don’t miss them next time around.
Augustana took the stage and as I was up front taking pics, I needed my earplugs, not to drown out the music, but the screaming of the throngs of girls up front. The chicks freakin love Augustana. They played lots of stuff from All The Stars and Boulevards, but also mixed in a lot of new material so I’m sure a new release isn’t too far away.
The House of Blues has a strict contract that you sign for a photopass that allows photography only during the first three songs of a band’s set, so I made my way into the crowd but never really settled in a spot with a good view, always kinda behind someone 10 feet tall or a pillar. There was also a camera crew filming the show, so they blocked the view a lot, too. Dan, the singer, was talkative between songs, but his voice is so deep, I could never make out what he was saying, and I doubt those screaming girls could, either, but they didn’t seem to care and screamed anytime he opened his mouth.
I watched about 3/4 of their show then decided that since I’ll be seeing them in a more intimate venue on Monday, and since my car was parked blocks away in a sketchy part of downtown, the wisest decision was to make my trek home. I try not to be ageist but I’m glad Monday’s show will be a KPRI crowd and limited to those 21 and up. I don’t think I can get the ringing out of my ears from another night of all the screaming.
After the show I headed to the Ken Club sans camera and decided to just let the night take over and that it did. I didn’t check out New York Station in the band room but instead hung out with the Ponce’s crew at the bar. I also met a guy in a Hip Hop group called Well Fair playing at the Sports Club on 4/26. He told me he doesn’t "get" rock n roll and that I should give Hip Hop a try. I might just do that. Or I might not… Still, it was a great night and a nice lead in to Sunday.