The Orwells at Triple Rock Social Club, 4/2/14


The Orwells
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Orwells have been on an extensive tour since the 2012 release of their debut LP Remember When. It's a record made by 17-year-olds, and it's garnered them much attention out of the gate -- including a fairly memorable spot on Letterman.

But last night's stop at the Triple Rock Social Club closed the two-year spin, punctuating the Chicago band's whirlwind existence before the June release of their next, full-length effort. The fans were present for it, cheering the homestretch, standing there as proof of a lot of hard work. They all were nearly the age of their icons, and they gladly rocketed their bodies over the crowd and onto the stage for any shred of glory in grasp.

Though it'd be short to consider last night's bill an Orwells-centric one. You'd have left out Twin Peaks, another Chicago-based band. They assumed a David Lynch television show for a name in a way the Replacements might have. They started the evening, and in a way they ended it. Which is a key piece of the point when seeing the Orwells. They seem not to book weak opening acts but rather assert the philosophy that the whole damn thing be worth something. Such was the case when they toured with FIDLAR in the fall of 2013, and so is the case now.

Twin Peaks went right for it. From the first 30 seconds of their set, bass player and singer Jack Dolan was in the crowd, knocking shoulders with whoever to incite something other than blank stares, and continuously throughout guitarist Clay Frankel did much of the same.

They played their instruments both humorously and innocently - jumping, shaking their heads and squeezing out facial expressions that only made sense in the moment. Livily cannot package what they were. Instead, it was what you'd expect of young men in possession of a stage, and it's what was endearing about them. Because the songs themselves weren't above others. They stuck to the rock 'n' roll paradigm, but the execution - and the band's seeming belief in them - really struck a chord. It was sort of beautiful to see, almost, because it echoed the narrative we've come to love. Write a rock song; take over the world. That's the ticket to freedom.


Drummer Connor Brodnor became the centerpiece in this thought. He looked like Hurley from Lost, and he'd stammer out this high-pitch, screeching countdown - like he was Kim Pine about to jump into something like "Sex Bob-omb" - before each number. You loved this kid's presence on the stage, even back behind the kit. His messy swap of curly, brown hair never rested, and he was happy to chant choruses even without a microphone. Last night, he was the greatest drummer alive. At least, he sold me on it. Dude looked stoked.

Twin Peaks would later join The Orwells for an enchore performance of "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the classic Stooges track. It makes sense both bands would be friendly. They've toured together, obviously, and they represent the same town, but what was great to see - during both sets - were the peaking eyes from all band members rolling around the stage exit, checking each other out and nodding their heads. Cadien Lake James, the Twin Peaks' lead singer who played his own set on crutches, sat out on the stage during The Orwells set - the cast on his leg swinging with the rhythm, a pack of Marlboro's stuffed between the cast straps.
The Orwells' set was just as strong, though a tad more sexually charged. Singer Mario Cuomo couldn't fend off his female fans, one who even went as far as to grab his dick during the first song. This same fan would later leap on stage and lick Cuomo's chest for an awkward amount of time, but damn, man, she looked happy.

In essence, that's what last night was. It was an orgasm for long-starved fans, and it blew up in a purple-lit all-ages way. Which is weird to type, but it's true. They're a young band with equally as young fans, and though the early stages of the evening felt awkward, it later became interesting. We all want to write rock 'n' roll off sometimes, or say something like dubstep is the now generation's revolution, but last night showed a still-alive love for rock music from teenagers in the year 2014. They knew every word, and by way of the female obsession with Cuomo, it was like Tiger Beat still existed.

Maybe time travel is a shitty, lame way to write it, but the Orwells do put on a show that erases the existence of indie rock. Or, better said, the indie rock aesthetic or attitude fathered in by someone like Stephen Malkmus. It's easy to love that stuff, and surely someone like Cuomo does too, but the romantic element in an Orwells show - like the 1990s never was - is attractive.

Cuomo thanked his fans last night. He thanked Twin Peaks as well, stating they've "shared bottles, bowls and cumshots" with those dudes. You know, "all the fun shit like that." He walked off the stage, and as a fan went to high-five him, he grabbed the fan's hand and kissed it. I overheard an Orwells guitarist planning to hit up the Mall of America the next day. Teenagers, as ever.

Personal bias: I don't know if this applies this time.

Random notebook dump: A bouncer almost threw me out because he mumbled "can I see your ID?," and I didn't hear him, prompting him to suddenly yell and us having a useless discussion.

Other Voices
Righteous One
Dirty Sheets
Halloween All Year
In My Bed
Gotta Get Down
Let it Burn
Not A Problem
(Black Lips cover)
Blood Bubbles
Bathroom Tile Blues
Mallrats (La La La)
Who Needs You

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