Walk the Moon: Alt-Rock’s Next Breakout Band
by Kat Kulke on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Only three years ago, the alternative-rock band Walk the Moon was playing campus shows for their fellow students at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Yet within the past year, the group, fronted by charismatic vocalist Nick Petricca, has skyrocketed to success. This past Thursday, the art-rockers played a sold-out show at the Paradise Rock Club in downtown Boston.
“They’re just so smart,” my mother gushed as we pulled up beside the Paradise. My last sit-down exam was the afternoon of the 21st, and she had purchased tickets for my sister, a friend, and me as a sort of post-exams “treat.”
The crowd was markedly larger than that at WTM’s last Boston concert, this past June, which I also attended (I’m a bit of a fangirl). While a few sets of parents and middle-aged fans lingered by the club’s walls, this was a young fan-base, largely teenagers and twenty-somethings. We shuffled through clusters of indie kids and sorority girls, every face brightly decorated in tribute to the band’s face-painting tradition. From corner to corner, the venue pulsed with energy.
After a 30-minute set from the show’s opening act, a So-Cal indie group called Pacific Air, WTM claimed the stage to the theme from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The intro was both endearing and appropriate, given that the band’s self-released debut album, I Want, I Want (2010), is a nostalgic tribute to innocence lost. As soon as the band delved into their first song: classic, hook-filled hit Lisa Baby, audience energy was palpable. A first-rate frontman, Petricca fed off of his fans’ enthusiasm. By the middle of the set, the Paradise pulsed with WTM’s vibrant rhythms and audience cheers.
WTM closed the show with Anna Sun, the first of the band’s songs to receive radio play. With its warm harmonies and pop-rock hooks, Anna Sun is something of a summer anthem—a respite from the near 10-degree weather outside of the club. When Petricca climbed into the hands of the crowd at the height of the song, the venue burst into a chorus of cheer. Riding atop the arms of his fans, the singer beamed, and the club buzzed from wall to wall with his passion.
Walk the Moon has taken tremendous strides since their campus days. After receiving UK acclaim for I Want, I Want, the band was signed to small-time label Mick Management. When, in 2012, WTM accepted an offer with RCA Records, they knew they were on the trajectory to real success. Released just weeks ago, their latest EP, entitled Tightrope EP, ranked, if for a day, the eighth most popular album on iTunes—above Taylor Swift’s Red. So what brought four, quirky college kids onto the road to rock-stardom? Unlike much of the manufactured, generic dance pop that dominates today’s Billboard charts, WTM’s danceable beats are as complex and original as human life.
Before heeding audience demands’ for an encore, Petricca gave us two words, “be human.” This is precisely what WTM brings to today’s music scene that so many popular artists lack: humanity. Onstage, Petricca’s energy does not feel rehearsed, but genuine. Likewise, the heated riffs from guitarist Eli Maiman, bass from Kevin Ray, and playful drumbeats from Sean Waugaman, speak to something vital and sincere. Despite their pop-rock affects, WTM’s hits are more than the soundtrack to a “good time.” They are art.
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