By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
At his last show in Texas, AWOL is opening for the Visionaries, in front of a wild packed crowd that roars when he asks, "Do you want to see me dance?" (And he does, a toes-curled shuffle that barely lifts his feet off the stage.) He does not play "Carnage Asada," but he does dip into covers of Biz Markie ("You-u-u-u-u / got what I need!") and Soft Cell ("I give you all a boy can give…") and they love that, too, singing along with AWOL's cement-mixer voice. On this last tour, says Kev, he'd watch the fans react—people that didn't look like they'd fit in anywhere, he says.
"The idea that we could bring a little light to these people . . . It's a beautiful thing. One of the things I love him for the most is that he's truly able to translate real life into art and do it well. And you know you're not being lied to. That's something, too."
Do you ever feel you're too honest? I ask AWOL later, after all the shows are over. Do you ever say too much?
"A couple times I get choked up, saying certain things to hundreds of people," he says. "But honestly, I feel pretty fortunate to be able to do that. And sometimes it really hits home for certain people. They'll share stories. 'I was hitting myself on my head with a bat one day and your song made me realize I'm worth something!'"
He shrugs it off, smiles in a small way. "That's exaggerated, but . . . "
And again, next to him, his manager silently smiles again. That one's true, too.
AWOL ONE'S NEW ALBUM, THE ART OF WAR, IS OUT ON CORNERSTONE R.A.S. ON APRIL 11.