Words by: Charley Borneman | Images by: Chad Smith
Brendan Bayliss and Jeff Austin :: 03.17 & 03.18 :: Schubas :: Chicago, IL
Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee and Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band are a new collaboration but based on their performances at Schubas there should be much more to come. Not only were these two performances their first in the Chicago area but they also introduced their new band name, 30db. Don't ask what it stands for since the name is as misleading to the audience as it is to the actual members of the band; it's even a mystery to Google. Regardless of their minimal experience as a duo, Austin and Bayliss showed enough potential in the two-night run to release an album and hopefully prompt future shows.
|Bayliss & Austin :: 03.17 :: Chicago|
Schubas is a historical tavern in Lakeview on the north side of Chicago with a small concert hall in the back. Tuesday night was not only St. Patrick's Day but also the venue's 20th anniversary, which made for a large, distracted audience. As such, Tuesday's crowd was about festivities, but Wednesday was much more subdued, which was no doubt a direct result of the hoopla the previous night.
Austin was featured pretty heavily throughout the two-night run, his hearty vocals and tenacious mandolin were complimented by Bayliss' reassuring guitar. The duo makes for a harmonizing pair and despite their lack of material, they managed to pull off the run with relative success. Austin's the clear leader between the two, vocally and musically. When he wasn't leading the charge with his mandolin, he was belting out his familiar vocals. Neither Austin nor Bayliss was shy about sharing stories about the adventures the two have experienced in their short time together. Both nights were filled with considerable and not always necessary stage banter, but in the end the music justified the means.
Most of the material they played was a definite work-in-progress but even a drunken Irishman on St. Patrick's Day could see their potential. Original songs composed for their recorded debut, coming out in the fall, were played both evenings. One of the highlights was "Backfire," a new one featuring Austin. It is a catchy roots tune with hard mandolin licks driving the chorus. "Instrumental Key of D" was another new song that should be featured on the upcoming album. It kept the weary fans leftover from Tuesday upbeat and moving. The Stone's "No Expectations" and Umphrey's original "The Weight Around" rounded out the two-night run.
Austin and Bayliss provided the crowd with a fun and festive St. Patrick's Day and were committed enough to shake off the bottle flu and come back on night two for a much more intimate show for about 50 lucky if fatigued fans. Regardless of the night, the pair showed enough chemistry and dedication as artists to warrant further musical endeavors, so long as they keep the stage repartee to a more respectable minimum.
Continue reading for more pics of Bayliss and Austin in Chicago...