Grant Brinner

The Orwells @ JBTV Studios 2/7/2017

        The chair I’m sitting on right now is painful.  Why? Last night I was among the lucky few (first in line!) to get into JBTV’S 150-capacity TV studio to see The Orwells debut selections from their newest album, Terrible Human Beings. And moshing 15 year boys and being pushed against speakers is not a recipe for muscle comfort.

                Just before the show started, JBTV’s hosts encouraged everyone to crowd surf, mosh, and act crazy as possible. A few minutes later, the need for this encouragement was completely discredited. The room was packed with teens, many from the Chicago’s smaller high school boy bands, high on testosterone laced adrenaline. The entire time I sat on the stage, to prevent any injuries I hadn’t already received in the opening song, “They Put A Body In The Bayou.” 

The time constraints of  a TV taping gave the show an interesting feel; the small venue size and lack of barriers felt very “DIY”, yet the songs were sung quite urgently, very manic and “punk.” Despite the time constraints, the band didn’t skip an opportunity to show off their “unprofessionalism”, or “terrible human being”-ness. “Black Francis” took three tries to get started, and Mario toppled off the stage. His purposeful falls could make a stunt double proud.

                Towards the end of the show, I handed Mario a vest I had made out of an old army jacket with an embroidered patch of a vampire’s mouth ingesting a soiled sanitary napkin, with “The Orwells” emblazoned under the mouth. Back in august, at my first Orwells show ( i know i know im late!!), I handed Mario a pad, and he ate it and spat it all over the audience. Just thought I’d commemorate a special moment we shared together. 

The show ended with a “long song”, “Double Feature.” This song is the most reflective from the THB, about the comforts one misses out on when they choose a more “adventurous” life, instead of being a respectable lawyer or doctor. Maybe you could have been less lonely; a life of parties and constant travel isn’t always the most warm, or comforting, way to live. This reminds me of the countless 70s rock songs about life on the road, with wild parties and groupies for days; eventually the narrator realizes they’ve been hiding some deep emotional need. Do they want a real girlfriend? Are fans appreciating their art, or just their flashy clothes and cars? But i rarely hear this sentiment in punk songs; punk naturally comes from a kind of “anti rock” stand point; punkers write “important songs”, not fluffy love tunes. I think thats what makes The Orwells stand out. Sure, they write plenty about girls, parties, and more girls, but they also (usually at the same time), write about loneliness, the ‘burbs, hypocrisy, and frustration and/or humorous acceptance of their detractors, while at the same time performing in a punk style, whether through explosive guitar techniques or Mario’s Iggy Stooge-esque stage antics.

                Anyway, sorry for the waxing philosophical; The show was short and overwhelmingly intense; but thats what The Orwells are about! Go to your local record store and buy Terrible Human Beings; while you’re there, pick up Remember When, Disgraceland, and go home and buy a ticket to their nearest show. You’ll remember you did ;)

Is there anything particularly exciting schoolwise?
  • MATT: No, not really.
  • DOMINIC: [pointing to Grant] He does newspaper.
  • GRANT: I'm on newspaper. But that's not exciting.
  • MATT: We're not even allowed to play at school events anymore, because we did--what, we were freshmen, I think?
  • GRANT: I think we were actually sophomores.
  • MATT: Nah, no, no, we were freshmen. And our school had a huge heroin problem. It was like that year the seniors were all doing heroin. You'd get pulled out of class and go hear these speeches from people who would come in and be like, "Don't do heroin." And we played at the school, and we were like, "You know what would be a fucking great idea? Let's cover 'Heroin' by the Velvet Underground." After that we were done. The deans were ready to walk up to the stage and pull the plug. So it was pretty successful.