At 23-years old, Mario Cuomo is a veritable rockstar as lead singer of The Orwells, the Illinois garage punk band that recently published its third full-length album.
After releasing Terrible Human Beings in February via Atlantic Records, The Orwells embarked on a tour that took them to a sold-out show at Black Cat on Saturday, marking a rapid ascent that saw them play to smaller crowds on their previous tour stops at DC9 and the Rock and Roll Hotel in recent years. It’s safe to say now that The Orwells have landed at the echelon of bands that play the Cat regularly, and they surely have their eyes on 9:30 Club.
Getting back to Mario, who dyed his hair black instead of blonde or red for the latest tour, The Orwells frontman was a bona fide sensation in concert as he mugged, twisted, turned, and bobbed throughout 90 minutes of agreeable garage rock. It all ended with him crowd surfing at the end of his set of course — how could it not?
The set drew heavily from the new album, which suited the audience well. The Orwells kicked it off with “Black Francis,” their ode to the frontman of the Pixies, who also are on tour. In fact, The Orwells will open for the Boston psych-surfers on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Portland, which should make for a pretty busy show.
The Orwells hit a lot of other new songs, but they closed their set with “Double Feature,” their longest song ever. Guitarist Matt O’Keefe cited the Pixies as a direct influence on the song, which sees The Orwells at their most psychedelic by far. Mario threw himself into the song, belting lyrics while standing up straight and then hunching down to the audience before eventually throwing himself into a spot of crowd surfing.
The band gave a lot of love also to their second studio album, 2014’s Disgraceland, with songs like “Dirty Sheets,” “Southern Comfort,” and “Who Needs You.” The latter anti-war song likely has become The Orwells’ most recognizable tune to date with its prominent guitar riffs and shoutalong lyrics, to which Mario may roll his head and eyes as if he simply isn’t buying it. And that’s the quality that really makes Mario a modern rockstar — he’s so damn blasé about it all. The audience was thoroughly entertained by both music and stage presence, and fans were clamoring over each other at times to snap pictures or peer up to the stage when Mario would duck and dive.
The Orwells have about a week remaining in their current US tour, which finds them in Connecticut tonight, May 31. They wrap it all up in Atlanta on June 7, and then they will be in Europe in October. The prolific active rock n’ rollers aren’t going away long, so be sure to check them out at your next opportunity.
Here are more pictures of Mario rocking out at Black Cat on May 27, 2017.