That's what Aaron Bruno's friends called him in high school. When the school day was over, most of his friends would walk out together and say goodbye to one another, as is the norm for students. Bruno, meanwhile, had this strange habit of just leaving. He didn't say goodbye or hug any of his friends and say, "See you tomorrow!" the way most students did. He just left, earning him a moniker that playfully poked fun at his odd behavior. Years later, he wears the label proudly, perhaps even flaunting it.
Last night, in front of a near sold-out crowd at Warehouse Live, Bruno showed up in full force. And yes, there was an encore. As far as we're concerned, that's the musical equivalent to saying goodbye.
It's still difficult to appropriately describe AWOLNATION, because doing so might pigeonhole their music, and it just refuses to be genre-specific. Instead, songs such as "Sail" are followed by the likes of "Knights of Shame," and oftentimes people in the crowd are forced to drastically change their groove to align themselves with the music. Not that anyone seemed to mind.
Bruno has honed AWOL's unique sound with the help of overly distorted and/or doubled vocal lines, which are intertwined with a assorted mix of rock, ranging from synthetic to alternative. He even incorporates indie rock. He also raps, but not in a faux-gangster way. Instead, his rap lyrics are an assault of words, often saved for live performances to further hype the crowd. Last night, during the end of "Sail," he "spit a few verses," as it were.
"Blame it on my ADD" isn't just a lyric from "Sail." It's an attitude by which Bruno creates music. One minute, it's listener-friendly, easily accessible and poppy enough that you can't help but to move your body in rhythm; the next, he's rapping or singing falsetto as he implores the crowd to dance as if the world is ending.
We are still awaiting AWOL's next album, which Bruno has been writing while on tour. has said that he doesn't have a favorite genre, so fans can expect a varied follow-up to the first full-length album.
Just six months ago, the last time AWOL was in Houston, they played the Warehouse Live ballroom. It was a solid performance, but the crowd wasn't nearly as big. In just six months, with the help of a simple yet catchy anthem, they've come quite a long way, and with a strong stage presence, we can only assume they'll stay where they are for quite some time.
It was hard to pay attention to everything that was happening, but we'll just blame it on our ADD, baby.
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Before AWOL came onstage, the Epilogues and Houston's own thelastplaceyoulook put on solid and well-received performances as well. The Epilogues had a futuristic Silversun Pickups vibe about them, as scratchy, whiny vocals soared above spacey key tones as radio-friendly rock was followed by more experimental tunes. Thelastplaceyoulook, too, probably weren't the kind of openers the crowd expected, but that didn't keep plenty of them from dancing along to their eclectic mix of heavy, melodic rock and roll done up with plenty of lyricism belted out over
Personal Bias: Having seen AWOL before, we knew they could put on a good show. The cherry on top was a Houston-based opening act.
Overheard in the Crowd: "'Sail'? That's my fucking stripper song, right there!"
Random Notebook Dump: They make "Blame it on my ADD" t-shirts?