Walk The Moon at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 18th February 2016
“Walk The Moon!”
“Walk the who?”
Imagine slogging away tirelessly, attempting in vain to keep the pop punk scene alive, when all of a sudden, a song you released a year ago blows up in ways you couldn’t even imagine. All prior work may is nullified because of THAT song that’s played on every station, on every music channel and in every bloody Topshop across the globe. Your name is added to a list featuring names like Rick Astley, Gotye and Las Ketchup – welcome to One-Hit Wonderville.
That’s kind of what happened to Walk The Moon, a four-piece from Ohio, who’s song Shut Up And Dance has grown bigger than the band ever could be. Still, that hasn’t stopped hardcore fans from showing their support, with the band embarking on an European tour, stopping off in Dublin. The crowd is predominately made up of pre-teens, with the odd pair of awkward 20-somethings-on-a-date thrown in for good measure.
The set begins with Circle of Life, yes, the opening track from The Lion King, cementing the tone for the evening – goofy, cheesy and unexpected. Every member of the band is animated, vying for the photographer’s attention. Jenny follows, with vocalist Nicholas Petricca unable to maintain clarity on such fun, vivacious track.
Sidekick, from their most recent LP ‘Talking Is Hard’, sees the band continuing to bounce around the stage like coked-up Duracell bunnies, as well as some serious synthesizer action. Again, Petricca sings too quickly, spitting out the words: the sexual energy and frivolity of the lyrics are lost.
Here lies a band giddy at the thought of performing in Ireland in a near max capacity venue. Their excitement is tangible, but so is their lack in concentration. It’s a sloppy start for the band, and someone needs to grab hold of the reins quick-sharp.
The band’s chemistry is unbelievable, and they play off each other throughout the show. Different Colours is delivered with confidence, not arrogance, while on Tightrope, every instrument is utilised – all elements are abrasive and coarse, but it works. It also marks their tightest performance as a band and as musicians.
With the band finally back in control of their show, Spend Your $$$ is a psychedellic freak-out, with Petricca, bathed in gaudy neon lights, finally starting to exercise control over his falsetto.
Up 2 U is one of the heavier tracks from ‘Talking Is Hard’, and that energy transfers onstage as well as off – Petricca’s shrieks are particularly arresting, and guitarist Eli Maiman intersperses the Star Wars theme into the track at one point. It’s a performance that demonstrates Walk the Moon’s merit beyond Shut Up And Dance: the hit given a crisp but average airing on the night.
Maiman talks about how the inspiration for Portugal came from being on the road 300 days a year. It’s a heart-wrenching and honest love story that transcends time, applicable to situations beyond ‘boy loves a girl, boy is in a band, boy must leave’. It’s one of the few tender moments, and one of the best. On Lisa, they kick things in to high gear once again, with savage riffs sectioned off Petricca’s delicate delivery.
Things start to get a little weird when he starts talking about initiations, rambling in to a dazed motivational speech. “Give someone you didn’t know before a good old fashioned hug!” he says. A few in the crowd indulge his wish. This is all a set-up for I Can Lift A Car, from their debut self-titled album, and it makes sense when you consider its ascending chorus.
Surprisingly, the song most screamed for as the evening closes is their first sleeper hit, Anna Sun. It’s bright, breezy electro pop at its simplest, and it’s a fitting place to end proceedings.
For a band who have been on the go for over five years, they should be at a point now where they can deliver a clean set. It makes the band’s initial lack of composure almost unforgiveable. But Walk The Moon are so goofy and charming that they did the impossible, pulling themselves out of the abyss. Sure, it isn’t the tightest production, and the beauty of some songs is lost in the flurry of excitement. But it was a show that managed to go beyond Shut Up And Dance, and that alone deserves credit.