By Annie Reuter
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – We Are Augustines captivated a sold-out crowd at Bowery Ballroom Wednesday night. Their second of four performances at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, they had festival-goers screaming along song after song.
Having played CMJ in prior bands, it is the act’s first time together at the festival.
“It’s going to be fun. The City’s going to be turned on its head for a week, plenty of good stuff,” frontman Billy McCarthy said. “We’ve been gone for a while from the New York scene so it’ll be interesting to get back out there and see what people have been doing.”
We Are Augustines were formed after the demise of McCarthy’s former band, Pela.
“I think we had an abbreviated run with our last band and we felt like there was so much more to say so it was worth our time to refocus our lives to do it,” McCarthy said.
Of CMJ, the Brooklyn-based band said their intention is to play strong rock & roll shows. With shorter sets during the festival, McCarthy says he tends to favor the songs the band is playing well that week. But, often it’s hard to select only a few to showcase.
“It’s like trying to say a sentence and having to pull out words when you don’t get to play the songs you want to play. But, it’s better than nothing,” he said.
McCarthy writes candidly about his life within his music, something he likens to running down the street screaming your journal to rooms full of people.
“Honestly, it’s not always easy to talk about stuff in the literal sense and have to keep redoing it every night but I think it depends what kind of art you’re doing,” he says. “It is personal and I guess that’s just my commitment to the music that we’re making. I just want to be honest. It’s not always easy, but that’s what it is.”
While on stage, McCarthy says a mixture of thoughts run through his head.
“Every single night it’s different, it has a different feel, a different color, a different smell. It’s a lot of reaction to that. The lyrics . . . sometimes it’s a great feeling of relief and sometimes, when I sing in the moment they hurt a little bit. It’s like this big mash up of emotions for an hour. It’s an interesting thing to do with your life.”
Reflecting on the music scene in New York, McCarthy said the one thing that makes the City different is its size.
“All the stories I heard about it growing up, I thought there would be pockets of the CBGB’s scene or the West Village scene in the 60s. I thought it would have more density like that,” he said. “It’s actually really spread out. I have friends that live in the borough of Brooklyn but because the trains are kind of far and everyone’s busy I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. That’s another thing about New York. It’s hard without really planning just to cross paths with people. Everyone’s really moving and shaking, it’s like a big ant farm.”
For more on We Are Augustines, visit their Website. They have two showcases today:
4:40 p.m. at The Living Room for Paste Magazine / RDIO CMJ Party
8:00 p.m. at Spike Hill for The Launch Pad: Presented By Baeblemusic
Annie Reuter is a freelance writer and the founder of YouSingIWrite.com.