Live review: The Orwells @ Stereo

By Paul Ewins

Stereo erupted this month as Chicago rockers The Orwells took to the stage. The atmosphere had been building in the packed subterranean club as the band’s set grew nearer and nearer, and by the time they ripped into opener Black Francis the crowd couldn’t handle it and exploded. Before going into Dirty Sheets from 2014’s Disgraceland, singer Mario Cuomo announced that it was the best crowd so far in Europe, something he probably told Parisians two nights earlier, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was true – the crowd were going mental for The Orwells.

The band’s set comprised mostly of new album Terrible Human Beings, and despite it only being released two weeks ago, the crowd seems to know every word.
The mania in the crowd was really something to behold, but it was still unequal to anything on the stage. The band have been playing together since 2009, while they were all in high school, and the chemistry that this has supplied the band with is visible (and more importantly, audible) for all to see (hear). Since I last saw them in 2014, the band have not only matured as musicians, but also as performers. They have the whole venue wrapped around their finger. Cuomo especially knows how to work the crowd, having an almost manic look in his eyes as he dances around the stage.

There were a bunch of signs up around the venue saying crowd surfers would be chucked out without a refund, but the crowd didn’t give a fuck – and neither did Cuomo. During Gotta Get Down, Cuomo literally got down. He climbed atop the amps at the front of the stage and then climbed even higher still to on top of the emergency exit. As this was going on the band was building up the song’s frenzied instrumental bridge, and just as the song dropped, Cuomo did too. He pushed himself down to the crowd in what seemed like slow motion, gliding through the air as the crowd were going insane. Thankfully they caught him.

The band closed their main set with Double Feature, their seven minute long track that just keeps building on itself, before coming back out to close with The Righteous One, which included a small snippet of The Raconteurs’ song Steady As She Goes.

There’s no fucking about with The Orwells. Despite only playing for an hour and five minutes, the band managed to rifle through sixteen songs – doubt the crowd would’ve been able to handle much more anyway. A stellar show by a stellar band.