When bands get cute with stylizing their names, it can be a Liz Lemon-worthy eyeroll moment. Why does fun. think they’re above capitalization and normal punctuation? What’s up with the spaces in S U R V I V E’s name? Who does !!! think they’re foolin’?
But Los Angeles’ AWOLNATION? Oh, no. Not them. The premiere screaming men of Austin City Limits Music Festival earned that all-caps moment in every way they could. Here are 23 reasons why.Lead singer/scream engineer Aaron Bruno looks like heavy metal Cali Jesus, a crackling bonfire of beard, highlights and tan decked out in a short-panted flight suit. You could also describe the overall look as “Father John Misty with the irony baked out of him by the Los Angeles sun.” The band’s Jekyll-Hyde of heavy metal and palatable indie rock infused their guitarist with perma-lip curl, particularly on “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf).” That song, which is technically rap if you use a broad definition, but I would hesitate to call it rap-metal, because that seems like an unnecessary slur. SAIL Did drummer Isaac Carpenter’s shirt come off from the sheer vibrations emanating from his sonic-boom drums? I walked up a few seconds late, so I might have missed any shredding fabric. Aaron Bruno vocal comparison No. 1: cobras streaming out of his raw throat. People usually seem appreciative about returning to ACL once they’ve hit it big, but Bruno’s open-hearted joy about making a triumphant Zilker Park rendezvous after their 2011 fest debut was palpable. Bruno channeled the crowd’s energy with wiggling fingertips. Wizards are metal. On “Not Your Fault,” Bruno welcomed his penchant for Creed noises with arms wide open. SAIL. Unironic use of the word “party people.” The only show where “sing along” is code for “emit a blood curdling expression of enthusiasm with no discernible verbal significance.” Aaron Bruno vocal comparison No. 2: the furious last stand of an intense, unblinking drifter. “Kill Your Heroes” surely snagging the title of Most Fatalistic Party Anthem of ACL. Accept your mortality and get a great cardio burn going! The band dedicated “Woman Woman” to an inflatable T-Rex on a stick. On that number, Bruno wound up a pitch to the crowd when he indicated to them to sing the words. Literally. Running. Laps. During “I Am.” Aaron Bruno vocal comparison No. 3: drunk Beastie Boy. The drum solo on that song turned into an episode of “Metalocalypse.” Bruno exhorted the audience to get down as low as possible before an explosive jump for “Burn It Down,” and it should be emphasized that AWOLNATION has a song called “Burn It Down.” SAAAAAAIIIIIL. No, actually, “Sail.” I kid you not, an actual breeze blew in as soon as the song started. The crowd lost their marbles when the opening notes sounded. The song was a blistering, spartan banger, and Bruno finished it in the photo pit doling out high-fives across the line. The band played, letting the biggest rock cacophony at the fest bleed out into victory lap of sound. ]]