Augustines // Kool Haus // 17.10.13
Augustines warmed up Toronto’s Kool Haus on a rainy Thursday night, beginning their set with “Chapel Song” from Rise Ye Sunken Ships (2011) and following it up with a later track, “Juarez,” from that same album. Little whiffs of smoke floated around Billy McCarthy’s (vocals, guitar) head, who was sweaty by the second song, while the keyboardist (Eric Sanderson) seemed to hop with every chord struck, and the drummer (Robert Allen) sang along to all the killer, imagistic lines about having “rattlesnake guts / In a desert full of bones.”
Pausing from the musical narratives and shifting to the spoken ones, McCarthy said, “I’ve had a couple weird hours here. There’s a grocery store across the street. In the grocery store, they sell combo meal deals. One of which was the chicken fillet. I took my plastic fork and ate the chicken fillet. By the end of the chicken fillet, there were no more teeth on the fork. I ate the fuckin’ fork!” Kool Haus rumbled with laughs.
Then, “I don’t know how that’s going to go, man. I think whiskey might melt it, that’s my rough hope.”
McCarthy then switched the story location, introducing “Cruel City” as a “fistfight between me and Manhattan” and reminding everyone that “Manhattan wins, always wins” (and Toronto–with our flimsy, stomach ailing forks–perhaps does, too).
Things got molasses-slow when McCarthy ditched the guitar for just his vocal chords, putting on a cowboy hat. He sang out “Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love)” in a way that was completely entrancing, his vocals so taught with emotion that the words sometimes came out with a quiver. Post-song, in a gesture true to the lyrics, McCarthy and Allen touched foreheads and hugged.
McCarthy brought the adrenaline back in for their last song, jumping off the drummer’s platform. A “thank you” and a “stay tuned for Frightened Rabbit” closed their set, McCarthy exiting the stage with a tumbler of whiskey in hand (and his rough hope still in action), held up to the audience in a gesture of cheers. Cheers back, Augustines.
Leah Edwards |