THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: Youth, well-known for its reckless behavior and wild abandon, is also something of a shape-shifter that over the years subversively dons the mask of wrinkles and occupational fatigue in the daytime hours as self-protective camouflage but breaks again from this formality come nighttime to assume its true form — buffoonery and mating dances all over again. Witness the real thing this Saturday, November 19, at Velvet Jones (8:30pm, 423 State St.), when the nationally famed and eternally youthful garage rockers The Orwells headline an all-ages show with equally energized and irreverent S.B. rock heroes Dante Elephante. Both bands shall bring out the youth, be they legally so or only spiritually so. When the country’s steering wheel is once again put in the hands of an aged old white man — at 70 years old, the rate at which road fatalities begin to noticeably increase — we need rock ’n’ roll like this to steer us in a more cheerful direction.
The Orwells began rocking while still in high school, and unlike many who achieve a reputation at such a ripe age, they have still managed to keep intact the fire that ignited them several years beyond its bursting. A family band of sorts — frontman Mario Cuomo and guitarist Dominic Corso are cousins, bassist Grant Brinner and drummer Henry Brinner are twin brothers, and guitarist Matt O’Keefe is a friend of the gang — the band possesses that rabble-rousing spirit shared among brothers, cousins, and brothers-by-association.
If the media dooms any band that starts young by constantly reminding them and their audience of their youthful beginnings, then this columnist is guilty, what with the narrative of growing and adapting and so on. But, certainly, the band is growing, as hinted at in their upcoming album, Terrible Human Beings. “On Disgraceland and even Remember When, we were singing about being in high school and stealing dad’s booze. When you do that when you’re 22 or 23, it starts to get lame. We couldn’t do that anymore,” O’Keefe said in a phone interview.
The record’s title alludes to a “fascination within the band, and even Americans in general, [with] people like Al Capone — you root for these people and have some sympathy with them and can’t help but love them, despite the fact that he was a murderer,” O’Keefe said. Their new music video, “They Put a Body in the Bayou,” is filled with themes of political corruption.
Themes of youth remain, as in the energetic Pixies-esque blast of a single, “Buddy,” a mere 1:27 in length. And the band remains fascinated with suburbia and the kind of American darkness that many perhaps first perceive as teenagers living in an endless, drab grid, but others later while sitting in their first office cubicle. “The whole idea of those big, green lawns or movies that take place in suburbia like Virgin Suicides and It Follows — it’s such an interesting setting in its mundaneness,” O’Keefe said. “I don’t want to say we have matured. There’s still a high energy in our music. It’s more just [focusing on] weird fascinations or frustrations with what is happening in America, to manifest it in a song.”
The Orwells are fans of Dante Elephante — O’Keefe said Dante Elephante’s debut album, Anglo-Saxon Summer, is “one of the last rock ’n’ roll records that really excited me” — and the joint tour seemed like a perfect pairing. When they arrive in town on Saturday during their West Coast Tour, expect some teen spirit to arise. The elderly age away, but rock, so far, seems everlasting. To quote Dante Elephante guitarist Kevin Boutin: “I don’t care what the people say. Rock ’n’ roll is here to stay.”