The Orwells bring a nostalgic, adolescent-angst infused punk to Gardner this Friday, January 25. The five-member, all-male band from Elmhurst, Illinois will wail Grinnellians into a classic punk mosh pit euphoria.
In their song “MallRat (LaLaLa),” the band opens with the quote “I believe with all my heart that rock n’roll is a contributing factor in delinquency,” from a reverend preaching against the sin of rock n’roll. As if responding directly to this lament, the song begins with a drawn out cry from the guitars, quickly followed by a rapid drumroll: at the same time an introduction but also a homage to the bands punk music.
The song is carried by a sharp guitar riff, repeating until it drills its way into your head. It is instantly an appealing song, lively and youthful, with a drumbeat that bangs along with guitar. It sounds like it was recorded in a garage, which contributes to its frenetic, packed feel. Adding to this quick pace is the staccato delivery of the lyrics: singer Mario Cuomo wails “she get’s it a-a-a-a-all” and “we’re gonna show them a-a-a-a-all.” The Orwell’s classic approach to punk, especially with the chorus of “la la la”, is meant to get a crowd wailing and jumping.
In their music video for “Mallrats,” the band cruises around a mall with skateboards and jean jackets. My first thought was that they looked like they had just robbed a Hot Topic. But as they ate pizza, played arcade games for tickets and exchanged the tickets for a pink stuffed bear which they lit in a bonfire ritual in a backyard, I realized that these kids are just that: kids. Kids that make music just as youthful as they are.
This kind of youthful care-free energy can be seen in the video for their song “In My Bed,” where the band lies on the stage as they play their instruments. The song switches between slow-tempo twangs and an apocalyptic jamming where the band really lets it rip. Cuomo’s face turns tomato red as his eyes bulge out while he screams,
“I tried, I tried, she lied, she lied, It’s too late, too late, good bye, good bye.”
The song has all the characteristic angst of adolescence, but with a nostalgia beyond their years, invoking a classic sound. Cuomo writhes on the floor as if he is reliving the emotions of the song as he is singing it and ends the video dropping the mic with eyes wide open, as if the intensity of the song had drained all energy out of him.
Twin Peaks, a band hailing from Chicago, Illinois and opening for The Orwells, also follows garage punk tradition. Their song “Fast Eddie” is an upbeat, near-jingly rock song where the vocals are sung in a low and breathy voice, while the chorus is a breakout of the group singing in unison. It is infectious and fun, reminiscent of both pop and rock. On songs like “Out of Commission,” the band gets a little more rough and tumble, giving themselves over to screaming vocals and lightning fast guitar solos.
Upon looking up the band Twin Peaks and watching their performance on the all-ages show Chic-A-Go-Go, featuring an adorable mouse puppet who interviews the bands, I saw that I had actually gone to grade school with two of the members. What are the odds! Illinois is turning it out, so be sure to see what these punk rockers have to offer Friday, January 25 at Gardner.