Concert Review // Fidlar and The Orwells @ Hard Luck Bar

The OrwellsI knew it was going to be a cool night when we got to the Hard Luck Bar and a security guard was apologizing as he X’ed out an underage kid’s hand with black Sharpie. “I put a lot on there,” he said, going on to suggest that the kid can at least get high if he can’t get drunk.

The Orwells—a rock band from Illinois, made up of Mario Cuomo (vocals), Dominic Corso (guitar), Grant Brinner (bass guitar), Henry Brinner (drums) and Matt O’Keefe (guitar)—were the openers, and the crowd proceeded to immediately lose their shit only seconds into the first song.

The first few rows became a wave of people, kids’ torsos crashing into the edge of the stage and people grasping other people by their shoulders, making sure all was cool, yelling out whatever lyrics Cuomo was singing, and going back to moshing.

Cuomo—a fit of blond curly hair—was just as into the show. He writhed on the stage as people patted him on the back and shook their hands through his hair. He surfed the crowd, one hand holding the mic and the other pressed to the ceiling. And he ended it by watering the crowd down with a can of Pilsner. Post-show, he hung around by the merch table, his stare just as intense off stage as it was on stage.


FIDLAR (Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk) was up next. Some guy (possibly a promoter) got up on stage and called FIDLAR c**ts for making the audience wait so long, told them to all get up on stage. So the punk rockers from L.A.— Zac Carper (guitar, vocals), Elvis Kuehn (guitar, vocals), Brandon Schwartzel (bass), and Max Kuehn (drums)—started playing and turned the mosh pit wave into more of a tsunami. People crashed onto the stage, unintentionally unplugging amps, and a security guard paced the stage, continually helping washed up kids get back on their feet. People swung on exposed pipes in the ceilings, shoes got lost and tossed on stage, and sweat-drenched shirts were shed.

“Don’t you have a song about cocaine?” shouted someone from the audience. The band members laughed, then took the request and played “Cocaine” from their 2013 self-titled album. Other crowd favourites included “Cheap Beer” and “No Waves”.

It was one of the most high-energy shows I’ve been to, one of the best (all-ages) crowds I’ve ever been a part of, and probably the only venue where you can swipe a water bottle from the stage and hang out side stage and climb on tables to get pictures.

Currently, The Orwells are opening for Arctic Monkeys while FIDLAR is opening for Pixies, coming back to Toronto at the end of January to play Massey Hall. Though it’s a classier venue (no exposed pipes), I’m hoping the x-sniffing kids will make sure the show is just as insane as the one at Hard Luck.

 Leah Edwards | @leahhedwards

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