Walk The Moon & Company of Thieves 2.16.18
Words & Photos by Erica Garvey
“All I Want,” indeed: a sold-out theater full of loyal fans were treated to a high-energy performance by pop phenoms Walk the Moon last Friday, night one of their two-date weekend run at Seattle’s Neptune Theatre.
Opening act Company of Thieves, who is supporting Walk the Moon throughout the U.S. portion of the tour, moved through a cohesive collection of songs in the same pop-rock vein as the main act, with singer Genevieve Schatz undeniably holding her own in the spotlight. While the songs themselves seem to be well-written and the band members are all talented enough, the live act does not convey the same confidence heard on their studio recordings, and perhaps relies too much on Schatz to fill out each tune. Prefacing almost every song, Schatz explained the meaning of the lyrics in melodramatic fashion. With an enthusiastic crowd in a beautiful mid-sized venue, Schatz and company would be better served letting the music speak for itself. Her strong clear vocals are explanation enough, and the other band members should get more chances to shine and color the music with their respective instruments.
The floor had long filled up by the middle of the Company of Thieves set, and Neptune was packed to the rafters by the time Walk the Moon took the stage as a custom walk-up song played, incorporating age-appropriate sounds from the Lion King. WTM kicked off the set with “Press Restart,” fresh off last fall’s album, What If Nothing, and set an energetic pace through their radio hits and deeper tracks, old and new.
Seeing Walk the Moon in concert gives a new appreciation for the band’s use of beats. The weight of the bass and drums were noticeably powerful on each song reverberating through the Neptune. Several of the musicians on stage, including singer and birthday boy Nicholas Petricca, passed around a floor tom drum to ensure that it remained in near-constant use. It is this continuous deep dance-beat sound and the richly-textured pop melodies that unite teenagers craving emo-pop-rock and the arguably more sophisticated music-lovers among WTM’s listeners. For good measure, WTM threw in a few bars of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin just to let everyone know that they do have chops beyond their main pop product.
Petricca celebrated his birthday with cake on stage, his mother watching from the crowd, and a quick crowd-surf near the end of the show. He is a benevolent front man, striking a humble balance between lead singer and bandleader. Guitarist Eli Maiman was left alone onstage to begin “Aquaman,” which is mostly a duet between him and Petricca, who then joined Maiman after his well-deserved stripped-down guitar solo moment. The musicians as a group exhibit a connection not always associated with pop acts, which allows them to go off script successfully for a few moments here and there.
If the group feels burdened by the success of 2014’s mega-hit “Shut Up And Dance,” they do not show it. With the album and this tour, WTM are displaying complete comfort with their pop star status. They dress like pop stars, save the drummer, Sean Waugaman, who seems perfectly happy to be a regular Joe laying down hip dance beats on his fairly standard drum kit at the back of the stage. The lyrics have evolved in complexity on the newer tunes, without alienating their core fans, who sang along to over half the night’s songs with encouragement from Petricca and Maiman. The lights could be cranked up a notch to match WTM’s high energy, but the setup and sequence was beautiful without detracting from the music. The band members exude a Los Angeles confidence dancing and jumping around stage, but they have not lost their Ohio sincerity. Walk the Moon is a true delight onstage and a refreshing fixture in the world of pop.
Walk the Moon Setlist:
Press Restart, Portugal, Lisa Baby, Kamikaze, All I Want, Shiver Shiver, Avalanche, Aquaman, Happy Birthday to You, Surrender, Tightrope, Different Colors, Shut Up And Dance, Birthday [Beatles song] > Lost In the Wild > Can’t Sleep (Wolves), Tiger Teeth, One Foot, Next In Line, Headphones > Kashmir [Led Zeppelin]
Encore: Up 2 U, Anna Sun