A number of adrenaline-soaked performers treated a horde of the Casbah’s regulars to a memorable musical night on Thursday. The bill was anchored by buzzing Chicago teenagers the Orwells, with help from L.A. punk poppers Pangea and San Diego’s throbbing blues rock quarter the New Kinetics.
As recent high school graduates, the Orwells -- who are on their first U.S. tour -- were forced to hear the openers through the Casbah’s padded walls The hazy aesthetic that rendered their debut “Remember When” with an aura of a lost artifact revealed hooks on par with garage-pop veterans Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. The Orwells jangly ballads were noticeably absent from the setlist, with the band instead opting to maintain the momentum of the night with exceptional moments like the raucously abrupt chorus of the crowd-pleaser “In My Bed."
The admittedly snotty Pangea offered a gratuitous half-hearted “thank-you” at the conclusion of each song, all the while having a seemingly enjoyable time storming the crowd and back-flopping onstage. Their endearingly upfront approach to their subject material -- with songs titles like “Night of the Living Dummy” and “You Sleep Too Much” -- and intense delivery is all in good fun, though, and was generally rewarding.
The New Kinetics’ opening set was the least aggressive of the night, yet it was likely the heaviest. Guitarist Brian Reilly divided his equal attention between fuzzy licks and feedback pyrotechnics, while vocalist Birdy Bardot belted out an uncanny soulful snarl. The combination of the two resembled nothing less than Karen O fronting the Dead Weather. The New Kinetics boldly polished off their set with a fierce rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown.”
The Casbah has a knack for transforming unassuming weeknights into surprising experiences -- a trend that continued on Thursday, thanks to the Orwells and their support acts.