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The Orwells Performs at Slim’s

Claire Donohue

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Garage rock band, The Orwells, leaned against their beat up van outside of Slim’s Music Hall in San Francisco on Sunday March 23.  The members of the band, none over the age of 21, held disintegrating skateboards and talked amongst themselves, while they surveyed the groups of eager fans lined up outside the ticket window.

The Orwells’ music falls somewhere in between high school Sex Pistols wanna be’s and more mature rock. They choose the less known term “Flower Punk.” In an interview from Illinois Stateʼs Indy Newspaper, lead singer and high school dropout Mario Cuomo described it as “too hippy to be punk, but too punk to be hippy.”

The five groggy looking boys sporting oversized t-shirts and unkempt hair took the stage just after ten o’clock. They opened their hour long set with a track called “Other Voices” off of their second EP “Other Voices”. The crowd joined them in screaming out the dark lyrics, “Tonight’s the night, our lives will end. Well I spilled the blood, it’s crimson red.”

The Orwells took ahold of the crowd instantly. Cuomo bobbed around on stage with wide staring eyes. Just five minutes into the show many fans had already made their way onto the stage, quickly being shoved back down into the masses by security.

Formed in 2009 at a sleepy suburban high school in Elmhurst, Illinois, The Orwells have recently made a name for themselves. Their spike in popularity is largely due to a hugely successful performance on the David Letterman Show in January. Their debut album “Remember When” hit stores in 2012, since then they’ve released two EP’s and are expected to put out their second full length record in early June.

The audience was largely made up of enthusiastic high school and college-aged kids. “I guess young kids just know what’s good,” Cuomo said to The Lantern News. The teenage crowd shouted out every lyric, almost drowning out the band.

In addition to playing through most of their debut album, including songs about parties, drugs and teenage hardships, The Orwells performed a distorted punk cover The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup,” as well as yelling out a singular verse of Foxygen’s “San Francisco.”

Prior to the main act, Criminal Hygiene, who list their influences as “skateboarding and the high life,” opened up the venue with generic rock songs and painfully nasal vocals. The second act, Twin Peaks, showed them up by miles. The four young members of the chicago based rock band belted out original teen-anthems. They’re most notable track “Stand In The Sand” earned them NME’s praise of “Chicago’s most promising band.” Members of Twin Peaks ran back out on stage during the final minutes of the show to receive a second round of applause before launching themselves into the crowd.

The Orwells closed their show with their politically driven anthem “Who Needs You.” The crowd screamed along the anti-government verses, “You better burn that flag,” and “No thank you dear old Uncle Sam.” As the song came to a close, Cuomo and his fellow band mates climbed the podium beside the stage and hurled themselves down into the sea of bodies.

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