DFW Music News

A Year After Their Trees Show Ended in a Fistfight, the Orwells Return to Dallas

The Orwells are a quintet from suburban Chicago who channel '70s and early '80s punks.
The Orwells are a quintet from suburban Chicago who channel '70s and early '80s punks. courtesy the artist
The Orwells play Club Dada on Saturday, April 8.

The last time the Orwells played Dallas, their set at Trees ended with an on-stage altercation between a sound man and vocalist Mario Cuomo. After Cuomo spiked the mike a few times during their set at last year's Spillover Fest, he and the guy running the board that night got into it. Security took the stage and curtains were torn in the melee.

The quintet from suburban Chicago returns to play Dallas next weekend, with no bitterness toward the city. "I'm excited," guitarist Matt O'Keefe says, from the road between San Diego and Las Vegas. "It has nothing to do with Dallas. Just had to do with that venue. Funny enough we're playing across the street, but I'm stoked."

Their high-energy style can cause strains at venues, he acknowledges. "There's been tension between us and security or sound people at venues," O'Keefe says. "There's been stuff like that, but never to the point where fists were actually flying."

In addition to O'Keefe, the lineup at Dada on Saturday includes Dominic Corso on guitar, Grant Brinner on bass and Henry Brinner on drums.

The Orwells tour is promoting Terrible Human Beings, their first album in three years. "Coming off of the tour we did for Disgraceland, we just wanted to take some time to settle down and move out of our parents' house and do all that stuff," O'Keefe says. "Then it was writing the record and go through the recording process, playing shows to make some money. The process ended up being longer than we expected, but we were busy pretty much the whole time."

Terrible Human Beings is their second album for Atlantic Records. So far, they're enjoying the benefits of having a major label's support. "You get more help budget-wise to go make records and spend more time on the road," O'Keefe says. "They have a little bit more of a boost when it comes to promoting the record. So for us, it just meant our music reaching more people and that was kind of the bottom line. We were lucky enough to find a label that doesn't make us compromise or water something down."

The band will remain busy for the rest of the year, touring America and Europe. They also hope to enter a studio in early 2018 to record another album. As for whether a reconciliation with Trees is in the future, O'Keefe remains diplomatic. "I'm not looking to play there and I don't think we would even be allowed to," he says.  

The Orwells, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8, Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., $18, dadadallas.com.
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs