Imagine being 16 again. The year is 2013 and Snowden has recently leaked documents about U.S. mass-surveillance programs. You and your friends decide last-minute to drive to Eagle Rock, catch a couple bands, and be delinquents. As you step into the former church, a haze of smoke fills the air while Jeff the Brotherhood blares over speakers. Suddenly, the music cuts out and The Orwells step onstage. Chords permeate through the repurposed church as the mostly underage crowd moshes in rhythm to “Who Needs You”. At the end of the show, the frontman, Mario Cuomo, climbs onto the rafters above the crowd and dives headfirst into a sea of teenagers.
This was my first time seeing The Orwells live.
The Orwells are a rock band composed of five members who graduated high school early to pursue their love of music. The band started out with a destructive stage presence, at times getting into altercations with venue security and staff. When I had the chance to catch them live at The Troubadour in ’14, Mario was arguing with security for stopping teenagers from moshing during their set. This was what really drew me towards the band. The Orwells stood for rebellion, and they didn’t just go against the grain, they ripped through it. With powerful lyrics such as:
You better pledge allegiance; you’re not the only one. Listen up forefathers; I’m not your son. You better save the country, you better pass the flask, you better join the army, I said no thank you dear old Uncle Sam.
While the band has calmed down in some ways, they still put on an amazing show no matter where they go. From their run with The Arctic Monkeys in 2014, Weezer in early 2017, and The Pixies in late 2017, they’ve proven time and time again that they can get a crowd on its feet. The evolution of the band with their most recent album, Terrible Human Beings, is just further reassurance that The Orwells aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I’m also ecstatic to announce that I had the opportunity to catch them live right here in Santa Cruz. Make sure to check out the incredible interview that I had with Mario, guitarist Matt O’Keefe, and (with some cameo insights) drummer Henry Brinner. With HOT topics like: the music industry, Steve Jobs, and Atlanta twerk videos. Huge thank you to Bryan Nelson for setting this up as well. -Chuck Bass
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