The Orwells Rock Their First Night of Tour With A Rowdy Hometown Show
Photos by Jen Machuca
It’s 9PM on a Thursday night, and the Metro is packed to the brim with fans waiting for The Orwells to kick off their hometown headlining set. The Chicago rockers have just returned from a European tour following the February 17th release of their third album Terrible Human Beings, and this show marks the commencement of their US tour. After incredible sets from other local favorites Joe Bordenaro + The Late Bloomers, The Symposium, and The Walters, The Orwells burst onto the stage with a rush of energy. Donning a sparkly gold jacket, frontman Mario Cuomo commanded the crowd’s attention from the second the first note of the opening song “Black Francis” rang out, and he held it until the second he sauntered off stage just after 10PM.
The crowd instantly delivered the energy right back, but they only got rowdier as the evening went on. After another new one, “Fry,” and “Dirty Sheets” from their second album Disgraceland, some of the audience decided to enhance their concert experience à la Denver’s finest export, which Mario called attention to, joking, “There’s no pets allowed, man. I think someone brought their skunk.” The set rolled right along with a handful of more new songs, starting off with “Creatures,” a song about some of the band’s less-than-ambitious friends. Although the crowd had been going wild since the get-go, the crowd surfing that has come to be expected at The Orwells’ shows kicked off during the fifth song of the night, “Vacation.”
Next up in the stream of new songs: the single with a pre-chorus that’s impossible not to sing (or scream) along to, “They Put A Body In The Bayou.” The sing along continued with “Hippe Soldier” and “Buddy,” with the crowd surfing reaching a peak point of the night during the latter. As the set reached the halfway point, the band switched gears back to some of their older tunes. After playing “Gotta Get Down” from their sophomore album, Mario prefaced the 2012 track “In My Bed” by saying, “That was fun, but this one’s more fun,” before jumping down from the stage to join the crowd. An audience member helped validate Mario's pre-song claim by running up on stage to stage dive during the song, and things only got wilder during the anthem-like "Who Needs You." As "Blood Bubbles" closed out the streak of older favorites, Mario thanked all of the opening bands, saying they only had a few songs left.
The set steered toward the end with tracks "Heavy Head," "Southern Comfort," and the 7-minute long "Double Feature." Mario took a stage dive during "Southern Comfort" and the entire band completely rocked their extended jam during "Double Feature" before leaving the stage. As sounds of distortion rang out, the rowdy crowd demanded an encore, and The Orwells quickly obliged. While the hometown heroes performed their actual last song of the night, "The Righteous One" (featuring a bit of "Steady As She Goes" by The Raconteurs), a few more fans ran up on stage to take their own stage dives, and I even spotted one fan smoking as he crowd surfed. It just doesn't get more rock and roll than that, folks.