Reading Festival : Augustines

Epic indie rock in the right place at the wrong time

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With Blink 182 over on the Main Stage, Disclosure on the NME/Radio 1 Stage and Frank Turner in Mongol Horde/Gogol Bordello in the Lock Up, the decks were stacked against New York/Seattle trio Augustines before they played a single note at Reading, especially on a Sunday night.

They are met with a crowd that fills roughly a quarter of the Festival Republic tent, but what the tent lacked in people, Augustines more than make up for with pure passion from start to finish.

Vocalist/guitarist Billy McCarthy plays songs like Nothing To Lose (But Your Head) and Chapel Song with such conviction and heartfelt urgency that you almost feel as if you’re in a sweaty club gig, not a less-than-full tent in a field on a Sunday night. His commanding voice towers over the huge soundscapes of Cruel City with it’s afrobeat refrains, and those who have stayed faithful — sticking around to see the band no matter what — are rewarded handsomely.

McCarthy tries to say hello to Blink and then announces that Travis Barker has cock-blocked them and you can’t help but agree with him. Their latest, self-titled album is a stunning piece of work and their sound would be far better suited to a mid afternoon slot on the NME/Radio 1 stage, not the Festival Republic stage that they already played two years ago. Backed up by multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen, McCarthy tries to keep up a rapport with the crowd, but enthusiasm wanes towards the end of the set.

Augustines were given a raw deal at Reading and it’s one that many bands could have thrown their toys out of the pram about. Augustines did no such thing and played until the bitter end, even going ten minutes over their curfew. Those who witnessed the set got a rare chance to see the band in what in the end felt like an intimate club gig, but even those people would probably find them far more enjoyable at their own show when they return to our shores in November.