When Aaron Bruno founded AWOLNATION, the multi-instrumentalist needed an outlet for the creative work that didn't quite mesh with some of his former groups. The personal project has since become an international sensation with their motley of popular projects.
They brought their international Here Comes the Runts tour to the Fox Theater in Oakland on Tuesday, March 13, delivering a fascinatingly rustic, at times hardcore, and entirely impassioned performance, fitting of the gritty emotional tone of the project by the same name.
The Los Angeles-based collective is described as an alternative rock band, but thanks to Bruno's richly diverse musical tastes, each of their projects has delivered an eclectic, genreless sound in the years following the colossal success of their 2011 debut Megolithic Symphony, which went platinum in the U.S. thanks, in large part, to the international popularity of megahit single Sail.
Here Come the Runts, the third full-length work for AWOLNATION, carries a vast mix of grunge and hard rock, acoustic folk, pop and electronic styles to paint a picture of life in America as it really is, as Bruno describes.
Seamlessly mixing new tracks with previous fan favorites, I was stunned by the prolonged instrumental periods carried by band members Isaac Carpenter, Zach Irons, Daniel Saslow, and Michael Goldman. The night's only stops came during smooth transition periods, often filled with fun, upbeat inspirational sessions from Bruno.
"You can dance how you want to dance, ladies and gentlemen," he implored the crowd at one point. "You can move how you want to move. You can sweat."
Everything about this show carries the weight of a classic rock show, yet still maintains the upbeat vibe of dance-pop.
The group will take the Here Comes the Runts tour to Los Angeles this weekend, before heading to Europe for shows throughout the month of April, and will return to the U.S. for the final leg, finishing up in St. Louis on June 27.
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Words and photos by Aaron Nelson