Rich Fury / Invision / AP – The Orwells
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
“The Orwells have disbanded,” an announcement on the official Twitter page for Chicago-based rock band The Orwells read Aug. 29, after it apparently succumbed to mounting outrage following members being accused of sexual abuse.
Links to a Google document (NSFW) compiling claims from numerous accusers were posted on Twitter and Reddit Aug. 26, alleging sexual misconduct and violent/destructive behavior at shows from band members Mario Cuomo, Henry Brinner and Grant Brinner. The majority of the accusations are levied against vocalist Cuomo, and many involve alleged sexual encounters, onstage and offstage, with underage girls. The document also compiles screenshots of offensive statements from Cuomo on social media.
The Orwells had announced a Nov. 23 show at
Metro / Smart Bar in Chicago just a few days earlier, which prompted a flood of accusations on Twitter and in the document. The Orwells declared the show canceled Aug. 27 and broke up Aug. 29. Twitter user @rileyemmy of the band Truman Freeman was at the center of the outcry against The Orwells, and she credited user @ritacita as the progenitor of the movement to get the Metro show canceled.
The tweets that apparently sparked the storm were: “@AtlanticRecords @AutumnTone are The Orwells still on your labels? They’re abusive & have a history of sexual assault, sexual relations with minors, homophobia, racism, etc.” followed by a link to the document and “Call out your local rapists!!!!! Ruin their careers! They deserve it!!!”
The user @ritacita had apparently been calling the issue to attention previously, writing June 11, “I was very pleased to see that not a single person on any of my social media accounts saw The Orwells in Chicago last week #RIP,” after the band’s last performance at the venue. Prior to that she had also echoed some negative sentiments about the band in 2017.
Many accounts have since surfaced of bad behavior from The Orwells at shows.
The band sent the following statement to Billboard before announcing its disbanding: “While callow altercations and vulgar language we’ve used in the past must be recognized and owned up to, the accusations of sexual assault are completely unfounded. No member of this band has ever acted without consent or maliciously taken advantage of anyone.”
Pollstar reached out to management and the band’s last listed booking agency, but hadn’t received a response at press time.