Music fans of all ages came from across the GTA and beyond (including a few Americans) to see one of their favorite acts. Most stood in line for over an hour as they waited for the doors to open at one of downtown Toronto's most popular concert venues, the Mod Club. Fans of Augustana and opening band Vega4 didn't seem to let the bitter cold weather dampen their anticipation for a great night. Once the doors opened for the sold out event, the night was set to begin. U.K. band Vega4 came out with their catchy high-energy sound and lead singer John McDaid with his Irish accent; broke the ice for concertgoers having humorous casual conversation between each song.
After a quick change of equipment, it was time for Augustana to take to the stage. With dark red lights filling the performance area, the five musicians strolled out from the side wings and the crowd made it obvious to anyone that may have not been paying attention that the guys were ready to perform. Fans of the U.S. based band welcomed them with screaming cheers. The guys kicked off the night with the title track to their album, "Stars and Boulevards" and continued playing for the next hour. After only one song, I could already hear people shouting out their song requests.
Band members Dan Layus, Jared Palomar, Justin South, Chris Sachtleben, and John Vincent didn't care to look like rock stars. They all dressed as if they just walked up from the audience, with their long shaggy hair, wearing jeans and tees; the guys came to do what they do best, sing and play. After singing a couple of songs, the band briefly said hello to Toronto and carried on. Augustana entertained the audience with familiar songs, but also introduced a few new tunes including "Heart Shaped Gun", "Cocaine", and "Either Way I'll Break Your Heart Someday" which lead singer Layus promised would be the last new song of the night. At one point in the show, four of the band members left the stage and left Layus standing on his own to sing one acoustic song, which showcased his great voice and his talent on the harmonica. It wasn't until about ten songs in that the band brought their radio-friendly hit "Boston" to Toronto. The crowd got louder as Layus hit the first few chords to the only song he played keys on.
After Augustana played their last song, they exited the stage. The crowd didn't seem to make a huge effort to call for an encore, but it was good enough for the guys to come back out and play one more song. They took their place and capped the night off with the song "Mayfield" where we saw a steel guitar brought out to add some texture. They thanked Toronto and then said good night.
Augustana hit a high note with its fans, including myself; the only thing I wish could have been avoided were the long pauses between each song. It was evident that the band had a hard time hearing themselves, as that happens to all musicians at some point. All in all, both Augustana and Vega4 left with a few more fans then they had at the start of the night.
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Writer: Matt Borrelli