Walk the Moon have had a dedicated following long before their breakout hit “Shut Up and Dance” released in 2014. As with any band who suddenly comes into a great deal of success, some longtime fans become skeptical of who the band will become once fame comes calling, but Walk the Moon are out to prove that they’ve broken that cycle. “We don’t just play the new stuff,” singer Nicholas Petricca assures the crowd, “we like to play old stuff too.”
They began the set as they always do, and the same way The Lion King does, with a breathtaking display of visuals along with the beginning of the familiar lyrics to the film's opening track, “Circle of Life.” From there, it was a high energy set as they made their way from their opening track, “Press Restart,” through a solid mix of favorites for both new and old fans. Newbies got to enjoy recently released hits like “One Foot,” “Kamikaze” and a mind-warping rendition of “Headphones” that had the crowd rabid for more, while veterans were treated to “Lisa Baby,” “Anna Sun,” “Shiver Shiver” and others off their self-titled LP.
Notably missing from the set, however, were “Meditation <+>” and “I Can Lift a Car.” These omissions were a death knell for some of the most ardent supporters from the pre-“Shut Up and Dance” years, but for most, there was an understanding that sometimes things change. After including the “Meditation/I Can Lift a Car” duo in every set for years, the band owed it to themselves and their fans to give them a show they’ve never seen before, which meant playing new songs and leaving every head sweaty and every voice cracking, screaming for another encore.
Whatever problems old school fans may have had with the setlist were silenced by the band’s unrivaled energy. Petricca and company took the stage at the Coca-Cola Roxy by storm and never relented. Even on the rare slowed down song, there was a feeling that it could pop off into a dance party again at any moment. Face-painted fans were in a frenzy for Walk the Moon’s fantastic fusion of the fun of pop songs with the raw emotion of a rock show, and any setlist that the band put forth would’ve received the same reaction.
This tour has an extra special flare, as Lachlan “Lucky” West, the drummer for the Aussie band The Griswolds (Read our interview with the Griswolds), is on tour as an auxiliary member playing percussion, synths, guitar and more. The added punch that West brings to the core lineup of vocalist Petricca, bassist Kevin Ray, guitarist Eli Maiman and drummer Sean Waugaman allows the Walk the Moon sound to reach new heights. The band seems to be having a great time with their newest bandmate, and the fans loved it, too.
Walk the Moon is an active study in how bands react to sudden success. There will always be fans that want their favorite bands to stay tiny, where any amount of success is too much, but for most rational fans, they just want to see their favorite bands be happy and make a living. If you’re out to catch the newest underground sensation, you’re a few years late to the party, but if you just want to party, Walk the Moon is still going strong.
Photos by Sidney Spear for Bullet Music