Who is AWOLNATION? After last night’s performance at the Summit Music Hall, fewer Denverites will be needing to pose that question. Many have heard the Top-10 song, “Sail,” playing on alternative music stations, perhaps even over-played as radio tends to do, but what could one expect from a full performance aside from that song?
AWOLNATION’s sound is not simple to classify as they are one of the most unusual bands to come on the scene in a long while. With the rifting guitar, smashing drums, hefty bass and kick-ass keyboard sounds, you might call their music laid-back hard rock.
Performing crowd-pleasers like “Guilty Filthy Soul,” “Burn it Down,” and “Not Your Fault” from their debut album, “Megalithic Symphony,” AWOLNATION had no trouble filling every recess of Summit Music Hall with their vibe, once they settled into their groove. At that point, the sweaty hand-banging commenced.
Crowd-surfing was the norm, and lead singer, Aaron Bruno, (cut-off jeans shorts and all) set the example, much to the delight of the crowd. This was certainly a high-energy performance, yet the guys took a needed breather during a ballad, to which much of the audience swayed along, lighters flickering in the air.
The moment finally came for those not acquainted with the full repertoire of the band, when a wah-wah pedal intro sneakily peeled into the first few notes of “Sail.” The energy was intense before, but at this moment, Summit could no longer contain it, and all of LoDo could surely hear the sounds flooding into the streets. Smart phones in video-mode were all aglow to record the song that all had been waiting for, and the execution did not disappoint.
Fists were pumping, and all of Summit was shouting, “SAIL!” with so much exuberance that, had it been past last call, noise ordinances might have shut the place down. How could the crowd possibly recuperate from these 5 minutes of non-stop, heart-thumping, slow-“mo” head-banging entertainment?! The band answered that question, by following it up appropriately with a hard-hitting beat, reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine.
The craziness continued, and at one point the keyboardist jumped into the pit and onto the barricade, and found his way back on stage after a giant leap, leaving those who saw it exclaiming that this guy has vertical! Towards the end of the night, the opening bands entered the stage, and all engaged in a mega-drum circle with tambourines and chanting around the rocking beats of the drummer. Soon after, the band left the stage with smoke literally rising from the drum set, leaving the crowd chanting, “AWOL!” for an encore, to which they much obliged, and Bruno hopped onto the drums and belted out the final tunes of the night from there.
Quoleena Sbrocca is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Visit her website here.