AWOLNATION Concert Review (Montreal)

3 minute read

Tonight, AWOLNATION performed in Montreal for the first time. The American indie band released their first album, Megalithic Symphony, this year, which has already been certified gold and was featured on iTunes as one of the Great Albums of 2011. AWOLNATION is the solo project of Aaron Bruno, who has previously been in bands Under the Influence of Giants and Hometown Hero, though he does perform with a group. The band is gaining a reputation of being great live. But did they live up to expectations? Read on to find out.

Before AWOLNATION even hit the stage, the intimate venue filled with an audience eager to see them, quite likely for the first time. So when the house lights dimmed, they were welcomed to the stage warmly.

And as soon as they plunged into Jump On My Shoulders, it was obvious that the crowd was in for a crazy show, and that the crowd would match the level of energy. It didn't take long for Aaron Bruno to have fans eating out of the palm of his hand; he said jump, they asked how high? He dared someone to crowd surf, so someone did, then another...and another.

The genre-benders belted out one song after another with an infectious, frenzied energy that allowed the audience to release their own inner rockstars. Kill Your Heroes, Guilty Filthy Soul, and Not Your Fault kept everyone--onstage and off--dancing.

During slower track, All I Need, a different mood was set when illuminated disco balls spread light upon the crowd, temporarily casting its spell. It was at this point that the bouncing stopped, and the singing took over.

"All I need, all all I life, love with you."

Try to stop singing that one once you've started - it's not easy.

Sail was my personal favorite. From the first few notes played, you could feel the energy kick up an extra notch; it was almost tangible in the small venue. Bruno encouraged fans to sing along, and even take over at times. Fists pumped as screams of "Sail!" filled the air. This is AWOLNATION's first single, which debuted at number 30 on the US Billboard charts. Did you know that the song was written with a nod to the Styx song, Come Sail Away, as evidenced in the video and lyrics where Bruno talks of extraterrestrial beings coming for him?

The set ended with Knights of Shame. Bruno even took to the drums for a portion of the song, all the while singing to and leading the crowd. The final riff was a tribute to Rage Against the Machine's Bulls on Parade.

After the band left the stage, the audience screamed, chanted, and begged for AWOLNATION to return for an encore. When the band didn't come back right away, the cheering got louder. When the house music came on and the band's crew came out to dismantle the stage setup, they chanted "AWOLNATION!" As we filed out of the venue, the die-hard fans still hoped for an encore, but, alas, the band didn't come back out. They had, in fact, gone awol.

Encore aside, AWOLNATION put on a solid show. They were interactive, energetic, and sounded great. This band can't be caged into one genre - and that's what makes the music so much fun. It was the musical equivalent to a roller coaster--some calm moments intercepted by frenzy, keeping you screaming and moving 'til the end, never knowing what's around the corner.

The name AWOLNATION comes from from Aaron Bruno's high school nickname. In an interview with Kristin Houser of the LA Music Blog, he stated that he "would leave without saying goodbye because it was just easier, so that's where the name Awol came from." To AWOLNATION: don't leave for too long, ok?