As a born and raised Chicago suburb boy, when I first was told that Elmhurst, IL was the breeding ground for one of the most exciting bands in American Punk, I was undoubtedly curious. The Orwells were coming fresh off an much talked about David Letterman performance too, so I immediately began to stream their existing library on Spotify. I instantly knew that The Orwells were going to become one of my new favorite bands. On September 29th, I finally got to see them live at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood.
Their sound is reminiscent of old school Rolling Stones if it had mated with the love child of a one night stand between The Strokes and The Kooks. The sound is retro but fresh, a bit rough around the edges, loud, chaotic, fun, and entirely Chicago. To top that, they have a youthful energy, with only lead singer Mario able to legally have a beer. It’s really impressive to be honest, and I think that’s another thing that has propelled the band’s popularity at such a rapid rate. Songs like “Mallrats (La La La)“ off of their first full length Remember When and “Who Needs You“ off of their latest Disgraceland are the two gems in their library that capture exactly what I’m talking about.
Seeing them live was an entirely frantic experience, and the band to me took on this mystique that reminded me of what it must have been like to see rock bands in the 60s. Lead singer Mario Cuomo was silent outside of singing, leaving most of the talking to guitarist Matt O’Keefe, and the band flew through their set in rapid succession. Plus Mario didn’t really have much time to talk, as he seemed more concerned with catapulting himself into the chaotic crowd. The energy was high, and the audience swarmed like sharks at feeding time, and in the photo pit, it felt more like a bunker with bodies flying over the walls like rag dolls every few seconds. It was intense.
All in all, I left leaving The Orwells set a bigger fan than when I arrived. I liked that they sort didn’t give a f*ck about how they looked or acted, and were just there to rock. It’s kind of similar to how they approached their set on Letterman, with many having split opinions on their performance, but the one thing is certain is that they are real. I for one, can’t wait to see where they take things from here, and time is definitely on their side.