Reading & Leeds 2014

The Orwells go beyond havoc during Reading 2014 set

Chicago troublemakers live up to their billing and then some on the R&L debut.

It’s a fitting soundtrack to walk onto: Eminem’s ‘My Name Is’. Chicago kids The Orwells are troublemakers, and even if that’s a rep they’re looking to shed, frontman Mario Cuomo’s not interested. The band name’s chanted alongside a backdrop of Vampire Weekend’s ‘A Punk’, and by that point the scene is set. Here’s a group that belong in Reading and owe a good chunk of their existence to the fest’s gnarly undercurrent. They run from ‘The Righteous One’ to ‘Who Needs You’ and already the riffs are being chanted back.

As a frontman, Cuomo can’t ask for much more than this. Dressed in an all-white suit, he still manages to look seedy, like a preacher that’s been on the run from the police for two weeks straight. The frenzy isn’t relentless, but when The Orwells flick a switch, they make an impact like few others. ‘Who Needs You’ is the highlight - a nasty, gritty undercurrent that brings the best out of Cuomo. Mario doesn’t just end up climbing the metallic poles by the stage - he thrusts his entire being and tries to bring the structure down. He heaves his body and the stage set-up shakes, while the rest of the band carry about their usual business of doggedly throwing shapes. It’s either rehearsed, or it’s genuinely unhand - no matter, it’s guys like these that Reading & Leeds genuinely needs. Someone to interrupt the flow of things, someone to cause havoc while seemingly holding it together all at once (his ability to throw and catch the microphone is second to none). He’s super Mario.

Rowdy isn’t good enough for The Orwells - they prefer actual chaos, whatever the consequences.

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