AWOLNATION’s headlining return to the city of brotherly love was greeted with a packed venue on a rainy Friday night in the city of Philadelphia. The band recently released their third album effort title ‘Here Come the Runts’ and in doing so ushered in a new era for their already dynamically nuanced sound. Having cleared the difficult hurdle of the artistic pressure that a sophomoric album brought the band AWOLNATION has re-found their pioneering sound with their new disc as they explore a more organic and vintage aesthetic in music. As their studio music evolved it was dully expected that the live show would follow suit and it has as AWOLNATION showed a sold out venue of ‘Runts’ at the Fillmore this past Friday evening.
Gone are the industrial jumpsuits that matched the ‘Run’ era and so begins the era of the ‘Runts’ with AWOLNATION as the band covered the stage with pallets that masked their lighting, plants, flags, parkas & more. The visual theme cued perfectly into what the new album pushes sonically from track to track and the evening began with Aaron Bruno taking the show to the people as “Here Come the Runts” was performed with him hanging on the balcony that over looked a sea of people below him. Strobes, reds, blues and purples cascade around the venue as the hypnotic sounds that AWOLNATION mastered were replicated in a live setting – the transformation and rendition was stunning with moments of dizziness as the bass pulsed with the lights around the venue.
While the bulk of Friday showcased AWOLNATION’s freshest material the band made plenty of time for nostalgia and songs that could tie some of the more intimate moments of the shows together. “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf” was bleed perfectly into “Seven Sticks of Dynamite” that made for an incredible tension as the crowd went from a mosh mentality to pulling cell phones out to light up the sky to sway along. This push and pull was a dynamic that AWOLNATION has found a lot of success with over the years and continued to play with during this show perhaps most wonderfully as the band stripped down the typically poppy anthem of “Kill Your Heroes” to the bare bones. Bruno’s vocals went from a booming chorus to almost a haunting warning in one of the most inspiring moments of the night as a much older song became something that could have easily fit on the disc the band just released. The artistic liberty that Bruno & Co. take in their live performances is something that AWOLNATION has seemingly struggled to capture until this most recent album and as a result of that it truly was the freshest material that made the biggest impact live. The deep and jazzy grooves of “Passion” translated into a dance anthem when performed live and “Miracle Man” saw Bruno thrashing around the stage in such a fashion that echoed the greats of Bowie or even Jagger at times. The ‘Runts’ era may have seen the band turn away from some of the electronic elements that brought them early success but the material that was created is going to give them a more longevity as artists and performers than “Sail” ever can.
Here Come the Runts
Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)
Kill Your Heroes
AWOLNATION will certainly return to Philadelphia on this album cycle and when they do another notch in their evolution as performers will take place. The ‘Runt’s will assemble no matter what the venue or line up because in 2018 there is no better entertainment than that with true passion.