Concerts

Last Night: AWOLNATION At Warehouse Live

"AWOL."

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.

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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.

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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever