After testing the waters at The Middle East Upstairs last November during their Underplay tour, The Orwells returned to Boston to promote their latest album, Terrible Human Beings, at The Sinclair. Swapping out November’s opening act The Symposium for The Walters, The Orwells continued to support their fellow Chicago musicians.
The venue opened its doors right on time at 8:00pm, ushering in long line of fans headed straight to the bar and merch table. Holding a beer in one hand and a tour tee in the other, listeners soon began filling in the floor, pooling around the stage to reserve a front row spot. With eyes fixed forward, few noticed as members of the bands intermingled with the crowd. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells made a brief appearance around 8:30pm, gliding past the back of the crowd and behind the stage, while Luke Olsen of The Walters joined his parents on the Mezzanine.
At 9:00pm, the venue made a quick announcement, and The Walters walked on stage. After opening with “Goodbye Baby,” Olsen gave his bandmates colorful introductions, describing bass player Danny Wells as the one with “long skinny legs.” By the time they finished playing “I Haven’t Been True,” the Walters had brought the crowd to its feet. Olsen danced barefoot across the stage, dressed in a cardigan with suspenders and round colored glasses, looking like a cross between Bilbo Baggins and John Lennon, while the rest of the band jammed all around him. Other highlights from the set included “I Love You So,” which Olsen ended with a sip from his mug of tea, and emotional performances of “Life,” and “Sweet Marie.”
The Orwells surprised the crowd with an uncharacteristically timely appearance, taking to the stage just after 10:00pm. Glowing in white bell bottom jeans and a white tank top emblazoned with “USA,” Cuomo immediately asked the venue to turn up everything on his monitor before charging into “Black Francis.” After further pumping up the crowd with “Dirty Sheets,” the band played a long block of material from Terrible Human Beings including “Body in the Bayou,” “Fry,” and “Creature.”
Throughout the night Cuomo was as wild as ever, throwing back a handful of bud lights in between songs and putting his spare energy to good use with a dozen side crunches against drummer Henry Brinner’s bass drum. Following a rowdy performance of “Vacation,” someone yelled out “The Orwells!” to which Cuomo replied, “That’s our name, man” before carrying with party anthem “Southern Comfort.” More than halfway through the set, the band still hadn’t played their best known song. But to the crowd’s delight, guitarist Dominic Corso yelled out, “We wrote this song five years ago,” and blasted into the opening riff of “Who Needs You.”
Towards the end of show, The Orwells added a twist to “The Righteous One,” splicing in chorus of The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes” to make an already fantastic song even better. Bass player Grant Brinner showed off his latest bass groove with Terrible Human Beings’ longest track, “Double Feature.” By the time the song hit its seven minute mark, the band began to disappear behind stage one at a time, starting with Cuomo and ending with with guitarist Matt O’Keefe slinging his guitar around the still jamming Grant Brinner. To end the night, The Orwells returned to the stage at 11:00pm for a rare one song encore, leaving the crowd in chaos after yet another unforgettable performance.