Review + Photos: The Orwells at Irving Plaza (New York City, NY)

SKATERS (New York, NY), The Johnnys (New York, NY), and The Orwells (Elmhurst, IL)
October 15th, 2014
Irving Plaza in New York, NY

The Orwells are known for their wild performance style.  Which is surprisingly bold in comparison to the general shy demeanor you’ll notice when meeting most of the band after a show.  Dominique Corso, rhythm guitarist, tends to be the most reserved of all of them, and this isn’t saying much.  Corso is always bent over his guitar, his whole body in one motion with the music.  Matt O’Keefe, lead guitarist, can hardly stay still, holding his guitar above his head and swinging it around stage.  Grant Brinner, bassist, often stands on the drums platform with his twin brother Henry Brinner behind the kit, before jumping back off and around stage.  And Cuomo? When he’s not leaning dangerously far over the photo pit, holding his microphone out to fans in the crowd and imploring them to scream his lewd lyrics back at him, he’s liable to be backwards somersaulting or humping the stage.  At one point he climbed onto a platform just underneath one of the balconies and fell back, head first, into the crowd.

Their sound is reminiscent of an American movement dubbed as post-punk revival, though even this description doesn’t seem to do it justice. Essentially, it is an anthem for suburban restlessness, with a wailing guitar and an overall full and overpowering sound. Compared to when the band first started self-recording in O’Keefe’s basement, their second album, Disgraceland is more clean and produced. Despite the heightened quality, Disgraceland still retained the sort of rough, lo-fi feel that was so heavily present in their first album, Remember When.

The band’s secret weapon could be O’Keefe’s simple yet compelling licks. It could be the intricate drumming of Henry Brinner and the constant presence of his unique drumming. It could be Mario Cuomo, lead singer, and his unorthodox voice, matched with his unorthodox lyrics. Or better yet, it could be the collective sound and image of the band as a whole.  Either way this group of teenaged boys has come a long way since they formed in 2009.

Go to an Orwells show and you’ll see a vast age range.  From an older punk-loving crowd to a twenty-somethings bar scene, to high school kids moshing on a school night.  During the show, Cuomo taunted about the lack of people on stage, begging for people to dodge security and jump the barrier gap to get on stage with the band.  Only one girl succeeded with the help of Cuomo playing a game of tug-of-war with security.  Altogether, The Orwells delivered all that was promised.​​​​​​

Thoughts?