“Punk is dead.” I have heard this uttered, yelled, and decried many times, as non-believers argue that punk rock cannot continue without the presence of big name bands such as The Clash, Ramones, and Sex Pistols. But punk lives on, contradictory to the words of these skeptics, through the post-punk movement now headed by bands such as FIDLAR, Wavves, The Orwells, King Tuff, and Jacuzzi Boys. These acts have all evolved from the original garage, surf, and skate punk acts of the 1970s, giving new life to punk.
The Orwells played at Great Scott in Allston on March 4th, quickly selling out the small bar venue and drawing out the punk crowd in Boston. They come from a western suburban area in Chicago and released their first album “Remember When” in 2012, and have since then snowballed in popularity. With the release of two new EPs in 2013 titled “Other Voices” and “Who Needs You,” in addition to making their national television debut on “Late Show with David Letterman,” the band has quickly proven themselves a major voice in the modern punk scene.
Twin Peaks, another Chicago based punk band, opened for The Orwells at Great Scott in Allston, playing an energetic fast paced 40-minute set that set the bar for both the crowd and The Orwells. But with the conclusion of their set, the crowd became anxious to hear the highly anticipated music of The Orwells. After most of the band had finished setting up, front man and lead vocalist Mario Cuomo as well as guitarist Dominic Corso were no where in sight, prompting guitarist Matt O’Keefe kick the equipment and shout out, “Dominic! Mario? Get to the stage mother fuckers!” setting the rampant atmosphere for the rest of the show.
And with this, The Orwells tore the venue apart, blasting loud music and working the crowd into a frenzy of elbows and head banging. Mario proved himself a master performer, sporadically shifting between personas of relaxation and anger as he shook and pulled at his long curly locks and allowed his unbuttoned pants to progressively slide down his body. During his periods of extreme mellowness, he flopped onto the stage, stared blankly into the excited crowd, and held the microphone loosely above his mouth, practically swallowing it as he attempted to sing. But this was countered by his bouts of raging energy, as he dove into the crowd, spit water, pushed his band mates, and choked himself with his belt with a demonic grin on his face.
Playing the majority of their music, The Orwells mixed songs from their debut record such as “Mallrats (La La La),” and “In My Bed” along with songs from their more recent recordings such as “Head,” “Other Voices,” and “Who Needs You.” But one unexpected song in their set was a cover of The Foundation’s hit song “Build Me Up Buttercup.” The irony of hearing such a harsh and fasted-paced cover of the usually slow and soulful song was both entertaining and somehow very fitting of the band’s aesthetic (not to mention that the crowd knew all the lyrics).
Overall, it was an incredible show filled with a raw energy that can only be experienced at up close, in-your-face punk rock performances. The Orwells, along with the many other up and coming post-punk bands are not reviving the genre, but simply reminding everyone of the power of punk, which remains very much alive, kicking and screaming its way back into the music scene.