Review and Photos by special guest correspondent Michel Dussack
Say whatever you want about AWOLNATION, the one thing that no one can deny about them is that they’re one of the hardest working bands in the business. Their debut album Megalithic Symphony, which brought us the hit single “Sail”, has been around for a bit over a year, and they’ve already hit up New York City on three separate tours. On May 19th, they brought their energetic live show to the legendary Webster Hall for the second time within half a year, and opted for a colorful backdrop and flags this time, rather than the array of lights they brought with them last time.
While the set list was nearly identical to their last stop at the venue (indeed the only difference was the order of the songs), there was something different about this show that was hard to place. The crowd was definitely not as rambunctious this time, with far fewer crowd surfers, but the band seems more confident than ever while performing. Still, the 70 minute set was the best I’ve seen them perform, and front man Aaron Bruno proved yet again why he’s one of the best around. “New York is a lot like Los Angeles,” he remarked towards the beginning of the show, “you can see any band on any night…so we really appreciate you spending your hard earned money to come see us.”
He also did his best to work the crowd into a frenzy, especially before “Jump on My Shoulders”, when he asked “who’s gonna be the first to crowd surf tonight?”, sparking a wave of fans eager to do so. When the moment came for the band to play “Sail”, the crowd erupted and were treated to an extended version of it complete with a heavy hitting guitar solo. Next up came my personal favorite “Burn it Down”, arguably the heaviest song in their catalogue, so heavy in fact, that small mosh pits broke out towards the front of the crowd.
When Bruno announced to the crowd that the band didn’t see themselves conforming to one genre of music, it was impossible to disagree – throughout their set they showcased a blend of pop, heavy rock, electronic, and even a bit of rap towards the end of the night. There was no encore break, rather the band decided to play their entire set at once and when the time came for Bruno to announce that it was the song, the crowd were not ready to say goodbye.
‘That’s the reaction you’re always looking for when you say that,’ he remarked, ‘but luckily it’s like a 45 minute song. While the truly epic “Knights of Shame” didn’t clock in at 45 minutes, it did top out at around 15, and it showcased all the aforementioned genres in one song. Towards the end of the song, Bruno took to the drums and let the rest of the band shine up front as he pounded away while still singing.
Very few bands would be able to successfully pull off a sound as diverse as AWOLNATION’s. This is truly a band that does it all, and does it well. While the set was a tad on the short side and the material was no different than their last show, it’s impossible to fault a band with only one album for playing the same material again. So really, the only question is, when will AWOLNATION grace us with another fantastic album?