The Orwells rock out SXSW with heavy, satisfying set
By Ramon Ramirez
Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 16, 2014
The Orwells skateboarded onto Hotel Vegas’ SXSW-specific outdoor tent with a tribe of “Clockwork Orange” youths Saturday. It was comfortably one of the conference’s heaviest and most satisfying sets. After a week of token appearances on the bottom of the bills at Spin and Fader, the Illinois ‘burbs four-piece was ready to be done with obligations and bolt town.
It ran into a homefield advantage.
While gaggles of disenfranchised kids complained outside that they wouldn’t get in, friendly bands — I spy the singers of fellow punk start ups togetherPANGEA yelling along and stage diving — worked as the audience’s wrecking ball backbone. By song three, the band’s quarters were cramped with five or so supplemental people singing along, grabbing instruments and supplementing the chaos.
Frontman Mario Cuomo is a textbook brat: part Sebastian Bach, part Axl, part Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazarra in his mic-swinging prime. He works the fatalist, booze-fueled persona like a combustible genius. Cuomo convulsed like a nervous shelter cat in a cardboard box, instinctively bent on tearing down barriers. He climbed up the tent’s pole like a koala, he used his microphone as a hammer to break a stage light.
He was the ringleader, but the night was about the kids. The band is a wild Alaskan salmon, beautifully prepared with simple, hands off flavors.