Cincinnati-spawned Indie/Dance/Pop quartet Walk the Moon's tour with Young the Giant brought them home Friday night as the band performed an incredibly tight and impressive opening set at Covington's Madison Theater. The early sell-out status of the show was largely due to the headliners, who have been playing to packed houses for a while now as the buzz about them continues to get louder. But it was clear that Walk the Moon had a large contingency of fans in the house that responded wildly to the set, something that's likely true at more and more shows the band plays across the U.S. as word of the band continues to spread online like wildfire.
The show was part of several dates with YTG sponsored by the Woodie Awards, an mtvU awards show that had signage throughout the club. (MTV seems to have 50 award shows now, but Wikipedia says the Woodies honor "the music voted best by college students.") Walk the Moon is nominated for a "Breaking Woodie," given to newer acts. The Woodie Awards take place in Austin, Texas, during South By Southwest, capping off the 2012 Woodie Awards Festival (which WTM is set to play).
Voting in Walk the Moon's category is open all the way until the trophy is handed out on March 15. The festival and ceremony will stream live online here.
Wanna help Walk the Moon get a Woodie? They have some tough competition (Lana Del Rey and tUnE-yArDs included), so help out your hometown boys done good and click here to vote (even if you're not in college).
Below are a couple more recently posted video clips from the band. I think "Tightrope" is the next single, judging by the postings (a live acoustic performance at The Mockbee, where filming of the band's viral "Anna Sun" video took place, as well as a version taped for Carson Daly's show in L.A., live at the Wiltern Theater).
The constant touring leading up to the release of Walk the Moon's debut major-label full-length for RCA Records (announced from the Madison stage as coming in May) has made the band even more of a live force, with every note played perfectly and with vigor and enthusiasm. The sound was exceptionally good at the Madison, crisp and clear enough to be able to make out what everyone on stage was playing (right down to the each click of the drummer's hi-hat), even if it was difficult to find a spot in the crowded venue where you could actually see each member simultaneously. (I haven't spent that much time on my tip-toes since my ballet dancer years.)
But, thanks to the sparkling audio, I felt like it was the first time I truly heard Walk the Moon as intended (outside of recordings). And it's a glorious thing — a Neo-New Wave cross between the Franz Ferdinand and MGMT, with shades of The Cars and Talking Heads.
Although they performed a set of songs they have probably played numerous times on the road, Walk the Moon's members showed no sign of fatigue, driving the danceable rhythms and soaring melodies as if this was the first show back after a year off. There was a palpable sense of professionalism evident in the set and the members' readiness for the next step in their career can't be denied.
I started thinking about the first time I saw the band, a couple of years ago at a Main Street bar in Over-the-Rhine where Walk the Moon was playing a MidPoint Music Festival showcase (I believe on a typically slow Thursday night). I was wowed by the band then, but it wasn't quite the same. The energy was there, but the crowd was at around 40 people. They weren't quite the emerging powerhouse I saw at the band's show about a year later at the Cincinnati Zoo. That free, outdoor show drew more people to the Zoo than a newborn gorilla — you don't expect to not be able to move at an open-air concert like that, but I was stunned by the mass of adoring fans, many sporting the glammy Native American-like face paint the band slaps on for live shows. (Many were in attendance Friday, as well.)
Besides a more solidified lineup and increased focus, it seems like the band members draw power from the audience. The members have that Midwestern charm and their down-to-earth nature translates to their interaction with fans online and onstage. It was evident Friday when the group informed everyone they'd be at the back of the venue to talk if anyone wanted to stop by after the set. I was reminded of Paul McCartney's concert here last summer and being amazed at how genuine he comes off, even though he's done the same song and dance a billion times before. Paul, like WTM, sincerely seems to value his fans and understand the power music has on people.
It's part of the showmanship, something Walk the Moon has down pat already. With several more dates on the horizon, the band is going to be scary good by the time its RCA debut comes out. Barring the onset of cynicism, by the end of that tour cycle, I can't imagine where they'll be. It doesn't seem like they can get any better as a live act.