Sweat, hugging, water spraying, crowd surfing and of course great music; everything was laid out to make The Orwells show at Thekla one of the best the boat had seen. The Chicago rockers are currently out on their UK tour, with last night’s gig being their first ever in Bristol. The Orwells have been lurking around for a while now, with both a cult and a bigger following throughout the States, the UK and the rest of the world. Having watched their legendary performance on the Late Show with David Letterman, I was fully expecting a swarm of chaos and I wasn’t left disappointed.
Having sauntered on with wine in hand, they kicked the set off with the title track taken from 2013’s EP ‘Other Voices’. The fast paced garage rock immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy, with arms (and legs) already flapping about in the air. It looked like right from that moment the security had pretty much given up any hope of controlling the frantic fans. The next tracks to follow were the band’s first 2014 releases in the way of the raw snarl of ‘The Righteous One’ and the raunch-fest ‘Dirty Sheets’. During in the latter, a shoe was lobbed onto the stage as the already marvelled at frontman Mario Cuomo yelled ‘I’ve lost my shoe’. It seemed that everyone in the crowd wanted in with the satirical groans of adolescence and were prepared to immerse themselves in the rowdiness.
Whilst it’s hard to take your eyes off Cuomo with his intense stares and mischievous smiles (which can make you feel a little awk) when you eventually do, each member is equally as mesmerising to watch, so much so that it’s difficult to decide where to set your eyes. The band (made up of Cuomo, Dominic Corso, Matt O’Keefe and twins Grant and Henry Brinner) thrived with energy as they barely paused throughout the whole set until the final encore.
The band stormed on, playing a balanced mix of songs from their RIDICULOUSLY UNDERRATED 2012 debut ‘Remember When‘, as well as newer singles and EPs. ‘Halloween all year’ made its well-deserved appearance running into a short, abrupt throaty cover of The Foundations’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’; proving that they are equally as great at covering as they are at making their own. They demonstrated this again later, with such an overwhelmingly epic cover of The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.
The Orwells music is not the conventional type to give you goosebumps, but there is something about the euphoric atmosphere, that makes you feel like you’re actually part of something bigger than just this one gig. With the passionate reception from the crowd and the countless aggressive attempts to grab hold of Cuomo’s hair, top, or anything they could get hold of, the audience clearly felt that this would indeed be a night to cherish and remember.
The much-loved howl of ‘In My Bed’ was a highlight with its scratchy vocals and deep guitar riffs, whilst old favourite ‘Mallrats (La La La)’ and the recently infamous ‘Who Needs You’ caused a sweaty carnage amongst the teens at the front of the pit.
The truth is The Orwells angsty, rowdy, punkiness brings something out of everyone, young and old and it’s fair to say that during last night’s gig the boat was well and truly rocked.