music / Reviews

Walk the Moon – Mercury Lounge, New York, NY (6.19.12)

June 24, 2012 | Posted by Matt Arena

Every year, there seems to be an act that comes seemingly out of nowhere and becomes massively popular almost overnight. Last year it was Foster the People and Young the Giant. Both “indie” bands were pretty much unknown by the masses as little as just over 15 months ago but managed to have staggeringly successful years regardless. It’s always interesting to watch these bands early on and see exactly how/when they get that spark that propels them to the top. This year, it seems Walk the Moon are poised for a similar rise to power. Making the rounds even before their first major label release, they’ve already managed to enjoy a level of success. Touring with bands like Kaiser Chiefs, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Young the Giant no doubt helped them not only gain a solid fan base, but establish themselves as consistently outstanding performers. Last Tuesday night to celebrate the launch of their self-titled debut album (which may is arguably the best release of the year thus far), they played an intimate show at New York’s Mercury Lounge. The show sold out less than an hour after going on sale, as the band just recently played the similarly sized Santos Party House (which sold out as well) just months prior. Having first discovered them back in September, as they were a last second replacement on Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival, it’s wonderful to watch the steady rise of Walk the Moon. There’s something to be said for a band that can sell out 250 capacity clubs in New York only having a 3-track EP and independent record on their discography. If anything that’s a testament to their reputation as a live band. Sure, at a cursory glance some may dub them “the face paint band,” but it’s more than the tribal markings on their face that bring people back show after show. The joy and energy they exude from the stage is nearly palpable and definitely undeniable. No matter what the conditions, as headliners, as support, or on a festival slot, these guys not only give their all at every show but they always look like they’re having a blast doing it. You’d be hard pressed to find a live photo without a beaming smile on every band member’s face.

Playing a mix songs off the new album in conjunction with some favorites from their independently released ‘i want! i want!,’ Walk the Moon put on a phenomenal show yet again. Though starting off with some technical difficulties (and someone in the audience who was intent on wrecking Kevin’s pedal board, more on that later), they played through it, with the bounding joy and smiles that everyone has come to see as almost trademark at one of their shows. Starting with ‘The Liftaway,’ a perfect opening track that touches upon almost everything that makes the band so great, the soaring melodies and poppy synth had the crowd jumping from the first note. Walk the Moon are able to turn unfamiliar crowds into new fans, so seeing them perform as headliners in front of people there solely for them is something truly special. The band clearly felt it too. Little moments that only fans would catch, like the trademark yelp in Liftaway’s breakdown and the clapping from ‘i want! i want!’ and ‘Quesadilla’ were instantly picked up by the crowd and placed even broader smiles on the Cincinnati boy’s faces. All the crowd needed was a few mere guitar notes and synth warbles to know what was coming up, as one fan loudly yelled “it’s getting cold in here!” as the band teased the intro for ‘Shiver Shiver.’ The tracks popped as well (if not better) live as they do on the album, with Kevin Ray’s beefy bass lines throbbing through the amps and drummer Sean Waugaman’s layered work sounding extra strong. Sean helps bring to life the unrecorded ‘Tete a Tete’, a groovy track that sounds more R&B than pop/indie/alt/sunburst rock as he makes great use of an electronic drum pad attached to his already impressive kit. A cacophony of drum beats (and not just from Waugaman, as lead singer Nicholas Petricca often plays double duty with his very own floor tom), extraterrestrial electric keyboard melodies, bass thumping that all but forces you to dance, and guitar riffs that will lift you right off your feet; each song manages to stay different while keeping these core elements that give them a unique sound that is Walk the Moon.

Excited and thankful to have the album finally out, lead singer Nicholas Petricca remarked on what a special day it was with the album launching and making it just outside the top 10 on iTunes. Before playing some of the tracks off ‘Walk the Moon,’ he explained that some were featured on their independent release, but “we re-worked them and breathed new life into these songs.” The difference on said re-recorded tracks is instantly noticeable, as it’s much more consistent with the fuller sound they have when played live. Even songs not re-worked for the new album had been changed, with ‘i want! i want!’ getting an extra layer of synth and yelping back-up vocals of the song’s title. It’s one of the better songs off their independent release and if you enjoyed the recently released album, make sure to check out that one too. It’s not only a great record in its own right, but shows just how far the band has progressed. Time on the road with tour veterans like Kaiser Chiefs must have rubbed off, as they had their share of adversity during the show. Not only did there seem to be some light technical difficulties before the show (which the band was very gracious to constantly thank the crowd for waiting through), but a couple incidents during the show too. “As good as beer is, it doesn’t mix really well with our equipment,” Petricca joked as they narrowly avoided giving Kevin’s pedal board a PBR bath. Apparently one audience member thought it wise to rest a beer quite literally against the pedal board, forcing Kevin to make a mad dash to save his equipment mid-song. Though having to remind said audience member numerous times that liquid and electricity don’t mix too well, the band kept their cool. Kudos to them, as one can only imagine how nerve wracking it must be to focus on playing while a drunk guy dances with his beer hovering directly over one of the most important pieces of equipment on stage. But always the professionals, the band not only brushed it off, but played with the same level of reckless abandon they always do. Guitarist Eli Maiman bounced around the stage, hyper as a toddler on a sugar rush, all the while cranking out the infectious riffs that make it so easy to dance along with him. It’s admirable to watch a band like Walk the Moon jump around like a cross between Mexican jumping beans and a package of skittles, but still managing to play every note perfectly. The crowd, just as intense as the band on stage, were jumping and dancing along as well, the entire floor of the venue was even bouncing at some points in the night. Walk the Moon truly saved the best for last, as they closed with their biggest hit, ‘Anna Sun.’ A summer anthem if I’ve ever heard one, the tone and vivid imagery this song carries is undeniable. Turning the crowd into a teeming mass of dancing fools, it’s no wonder the video has over a million views on YouTube. So if you haven’t already bought the new album, fix that immediately. Because when they’re headlining to thousands of people in a 6 months from now, you can say, “I knew them when…”

Feel free to check out all my photos from this show on my flickr page.






The 411: Showcasing a mix of songs off both their independent and major label albums, Walk the Moon yet again played an excellent show. Colorful, bouncy, and always happy, all it takes is one listen to see why this band is headed for big things. And fast. “Spinning on windmills sleeping on couches running through fields dancing like a bird beating drums so many voices beards into bumblebees and jean jackets i want! i want!” is all that’s said in their about section on facebook. That’s all that needs to be said really. And though it may make zero sense to you if you haven’t seen them, all it takes it one show to change that. As they embark on the Naked Feet Tour in support of their stellar self-titled debut album, do your 5 senses a favor and see them when they come to your town.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend

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Matt Arena
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