AWOLNATION lights up Dallas’ South Side Ballroom

By Mackenzie Hutchinson

AWOLNATION: a one-hit-wonder pop band or a heavy rock band that’s here to stay?

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It only took me a few steps inside the concert venue, The South Side Ballroom, to realize I was not about to see a mainstream pop concert. To some, AWOLNATION may be considered a part of the electronic genre, but their electronics are just accessories to the mastery of their instruments. The band had two opening acts which attempted to raise the energy of the stand-still crowd, but did not do AWOLNATION any justice.

The two bands, Irontom and Meg Myers, did not seem very well known to the Dallas crowd, considering many people were still lingering around the bar or outside having a cigarette during their performances. Having a technical glitch during Myers’ set did not help either.

Chatter and anticipation drowned out the 15 to 20 minutes of light classic rock playing overhead between the opening sets. It was not until about 10:30 p.m. when the auditorium went black and AWOLNATION emerged from the thick, red lighted fog that completely submerged the stage.

Everyone dropped their drinks, threw up the rock n’ roll hand sign, screamed with excitement, and rushed to the stage. The band’s presence alone was enough to get the blood pumping through everyone’s veins. AWOLNATION opened with their song “Hollow- Moon (Bad Wolf)” and the crowd did not stop jumping and sing-screaming from that point onward. A few songs into the show, lead singer Aaron Bruno felt the crowd was not rowdy enough.

“Am I the only one who’ll be crowd surfing tonight?” Bruno said.

Within seconds, every other person was on someone else’s shoulders, respecting the wishes of the performers. The crowd surfers brought the audience together under their facilitator, AWOLNATION.

It wasn’t until Bruno asked the crowd to hold on to the person beside them, even if they were a stranger, to embrace the togetherness of the audience during the song “I Am,” that I truly felt like a part of their music. I wasn’t only being embraced by the people around me, but also by the intensity of the musicians performing on stage.

AWOLNATION’s CD does not give them justice as to how musically gifted this group is live. The group’s CD is more electronic and autotuned, and I appreciate how AWOLNATION stayed away from the electronics and played real music during the show. They are a must see band for anyone who truly values the playing of real instruments and what a real concert should be like.

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