Awolnation On the 'Run' With Muscular SXSW Show

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images 
AWOLNATION performs onstage at the 2014 Budweiser Made In America Festival at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on August 30, 2014 in Philadelphia, PA. 

Subtlety is not a virtue Awolnation subscribes to, especially in a live setting. So it wasn't surprising that Aaron Bruno and company came had no desire to take prisoners during their South By Southwest showcase at Austin's ACL Live @ Moody Theatre.

Playing just its second show of the year and first since the release of its sophomore album Run earlier in the week, the quintet opened its 14-song, 70-minute set silhouetted against extensive backlighting and pouring out enough smoke to fill the theater during the set's earliest numbers.

Awolnation's 'Run' Is More of a Technical Achievement Than an Artistic One

The t-shirted Bruno was at his emotive best, as if releasing months of pent-up energy spent off the road crafting Run into its final form and delivering an industrial-strength performance that didn't stint on flash -- or volume.

Unlike most showcasing SXSW band, however, Awolnation -- which is just setting out on a full-fledged tour -- balanced its songlist between old and new, favoring 2011's Megalithic Symphony just a touch (eight songs vs. six from Run) and featuring that album's lengthy "Knights of Shame" suite as the main set's finale.

 

AWOLnation: How 'Sail' Took the Scenic Route to Hot 100 Juggernaut

But the group was firmly dialed in to the fresh material, opening with Run's title track and fusing kinetic songs such as "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)," a herky-jerky "LOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!!," the frenetic "Dreamers" and "Windows," with its smoothly soulful chorus, alongside the familiar likes of "Kill Your Heroes," "Jump on My Shoulders" and a furious "Burn It Down." Awolnation occasionally lightened things up -- for the poppy "Not Your Fault" and the new, power-ballad styled "I Am," but those were mere respites and a momentary chance for the crowd surfers to catch their breath.

The finale "Sail" was, not surprisingly, an arm-waving epic, and the show left Awolnation with plenty of wind in its own sails as it heads for a spring and summer of being on the "Run" in support of the new album.


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.