A&R Music Bar is a tiny, intimate performance space in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. It has housed shows from all of the genre board and lays off quirky, funky vibes- a space where The Orwells swiftly claimed as their own. Opening act and fellow indie garage-rockers, The Walters, warmed up the crowd (literally and figuratively) just enough to prepare for the madness that would ensue when The Orwells took the stage.
As the interior of A&R began to reach sweltering temperatures, so did the anticipation of the crowd. The moment that the lights began to dim, the pit instantly reacted. Screams followed as The Orwells’ frontman Mario Cuomo took the stage, followed by the other four members of the Chicago-native band. The familiar strum of ‘Black Francis,’ a single off of the band’s third studio album ‘Terrible Human Beings’ encompassed the venue as Cuomo strutted down the stage to interact with the audience, eliminating any gap in between the two entities.
Cuomo has a tendency to provoke madness, as the band has had quite a history with various fights and even getting kicked out of venues (the LC, another venue featured in Columbus) just to name a few examples. Although older and slightly more careful since those occurrences, there was enough madness provided for the sold out-audience to create their own. By the time the third song and popular hit, ‘They Put A Body In The Bayou’ rolled around, individuals were happily thrashing and the crowd surfing had begun. This prospect would not cease until the performance was over. Even as beers began to fly mid-set, Cuomo demanded attention. A fan reached up to take photos of him directly in front, and right on cue, he kissed the camera of the phone and continued to chant in front of the camera.
The singer has a strange and unique stage presence, something of the likes of a younger, more modern Marilyn Manson. The Orwells don’t settle for putting on one hell of a musical performance, but as pure entertainment as well. Nearing the end of the set, Cuomo picked up the trampled paper copy of the band’s setlist, smiled knowingly at it, and dismissed it into the crowd. Thus seamlessly bringing a cover of The Raconteurs ‘Steady, as She Goes’ about, much to the surprise and delight of many.
Due to the increasing heat, the bar stuff began to bring out cups of water for the venue-goers. Ending out the hour+ long set, Cuomo jumped off of the stage, casually walked over to the bar edge and began to toss cups of water into the raging audience. Even after the band exited the stage, the people of Columbus could still be heard chanting and begging for more. As the lights finally came up, friends looked at each other, grinning in satisfaction. But you can bet that the party didn’t stop there.
The Orwells continue on with their tour, finishing up in America and then moving on to the rest of the world in the coming Fall. If their tour continues to be anything like their performances live- wild and full of relentless energy, it will be an experience that you won’t want to miss.