Last night’s Scars on 45 / Augustana double bill at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge was a perfect evening of music from 2 very different but proficient, praiseworthy bands. Scars on 45 is a British alt-pop group, whilst heartwarming Indie rock Augustana excel at performing in the so-called heartland or country-rock style including a couple quieter ballads.

Both bands performed excellent set lists last night – – – but before the show started, there was an extra ticket to be disposed of. That proved simple enough; hands shot up when I leaned out of the front doors shouting “Does anyone need an extra ticket?”, and one happy fan entered the Doug Fir with us. Understandably enough, the show was sold out.

DLayus

Augustana

Augustana opened with “On the Other Side” from their 2011 “Augustana” album. They performed songs from throughout their 9-year discography including “Ash and Ember” “I Really Think So” and “Just Stay Here Tonight.” The sound system at the Doug Fir proved to be more than worthy and fans on the floor jostled for the best vantage points in the packed venue.

While some in the crowd obviously had a little too much to drink, for the most part everyone was well-behaved. Someone standing behind me thought it was a good idea to make a pass at my butt – quite annoying last night but seems funnier in hindsight. Sometimes we music reviewers just can’t get no respect.

Augustana played for more than two hours, but time flew by as their setlist was well-paced and the band’s sheer love of their craft was both perceptible and contagious. Predictably enough someone called out for “Boston” and sure enough, the band pulled that one out of the hat surprisingly – after all these years – singing it with gusto. So did fans.

Dan Layus is one multi-talented musician, moving effortlessly throughout the night between guitar, keyboards and harmonica but never missing a beat on his soulful, pitch-perfect vocals. Augustana has enjoyed single sales of 2.5 million-plus.

Concert highlights?

Without a doubt, their “On the Other Side” opener (great choice), “Ash and Ember,” “Steal Your Heart” and “Sweet and Low.” Way to go, Augustana, and please don’t stay away so long next time.

Steal Your Heart – almost 2 million views, cool. Crank it!

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Scars on 45

Scars on 45 were equally well loved by the crowd, who lavished them with praise during their somewhat shorter introductory setlist which included highlights “Give Me Something,” “Heart on Fire,” “Beauty’s Running Wild” and their new hit single “Crazy.”

Heart on Fire

Lead singers Danny Bemrose and Aimee Driver are natural entertainers with friendly, witty and overall delightful banter; both sing wonderful harmonies and Driver’s voice sounds lovelier than ever.

Follow these great bands on Twitter and by all means check out their music on their websites or on iTunes.

Support good music and great musicians!

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