It may come as a surprise to many that the Orwells have no relation at all to the classic “1984” novel. Then again, it may not. The Symposium on the other hand was named after Plato’s piece, deciding it would make for a cool band name after finding it on a friend’s bookshelf.
I had the pleasure of seeing both these bands give Philly a taste of Chicago rock Nov. 4, with what some would consider a legendary show . Unfortunately for Underground Arts (and luckily for the fans there), it will go down in the books as the night they lost their disco ball to rockstar and hooligan Mario Cuomo.
The Symposium is a garage-rock quartet made up of Charlie “The Essential Jokester” Gammill (vocals and guitar), Sam “The Pensive Trailblazer” Clancy (guitar and keys), Benny “The Debonair Cuban” Goetz (bass) and Jamie “The Industrial Ruffian” Siewert (drums).
The band released their album “Drugs” in 2014 in addition to three singles in 2016: “Red River,” “Synth Song” and most recently, “Dracula’s Wedding.” As part of the tightknit do-it-yourself community, the Symposium boys have played and toured with the Chicago bands we’ve come to love like Twin Peaks, the Walters and Modern Vices.
Often compared to the sound of the early Strokes, this band has found the perfect balance between melancholy and good vibes. The fans were treated to the energetic “Tony Stark” and “Cowboy” as well as the more laidback “Red River,” “Half Life” and the newest, “Dracula’s Wedding.”
While I was digging the live performance of “Tony Stark,” I have to say hearing “Red River” live really did it for me considering it’s my personal favorite Symposium song. Overall, their set was short and sweet but if you ask me, the Symposium boys stole the show.
The Orwells seemed to have flipped a switch within fans the second they got on stage. What was once a relaxed and easygoing group turned into a rowdy, rambunctious crowd. Since the band is touring to promote their soon to be released album “Terrible Human Beings,” the set kicked off with their newest single “They Put A Body In The Bayou” which was just a preview of the lively dynamic for the rest of the show.
The high-spirited fans only seemed to become more animated as songs off “Disgraceland” and “Remember When” were brought into play. Hearing “Mallrats (La La La)” live while watching the fans push and jump with either joy or fear in their eyes felt something like a movie scene. This was definitely one of the most unruly crowds I’ve experienced as many were being pushed so forcefully they were bent over the stage at a solid 75-degree angle.
Something worth mentioning is the inner wildness frontman Mario Cuomo releases while performing that everyone in the crowd, myself included, was eating up. He constantly interacted with the fans by reaching out to touch them, staring into their souls with his hypnotizing, ice blue eyes and having them pull on his hair. While he crowd surfed multiple times, the highlight of the night was when he got his hands on the holy grail of the venue — the disco ball.
It took the crowd a few minutes to understand what Cuomo was indicating by pointing towards the ceiling, but once everyone had the striking realization, he was raised up just inches away from the glorious disco ball.
Cuomo then went on to punch it until it detached from the ceiling causing everyone in the venue to rejoice in his wayward behavior. Once he crowd surfed his way back to the stage, he announced that he wasn’t leaving without the souvenir. His bloody knuckles weren’t considered fair compensation to the venue, though, so he was forced to pay a $100 fine.
The Orwells put on one of the most intense, riotous shows I’ve been to in a while. The band’s in-your-face attitude in addition to the series of events and tireless crowd made for the perfect storm. Produced by the Arctic Monkeys’ Jim Abbiss, “Terrible Human Beings” is set to be released Feb. 17. Be sure to listen to the album when it comes out.