Walk The Moon at Mohegan Sun, 01.20.18
w/ Company of Thieves
Walk The Moon is one of those bands that might not be a household name just yet - but I can guarantee that you've heard their songs on the radio, in the background of sports highlights, or in commercials. "Shut Up and Dance" was their huge summer hit of 2015, hitting its peak at #4 on the Billboard Charts and staying on the charts for an amazing 53 weeks! Their latest album, What If Nothing (2017), has been off to a great start, with their dance-anthem single "One Foot" playing across the airwaves for the last few weeks.
After having to cancel the summer leg of their Work This Body tour in 2016 (due to a family situation), the quartet took a bit of a hiatus - presumably resting and writing the new album. However, I was lucky enough to catch them at a random corporate event (Tableau conference) in Austin in November 2017 - where they played a crazy fun set to just the folks at the conference (it was awesome).
The band released a highly anticipated third studio album in November called What If Nothing. It is a well-rounded mix of pop rock and dance/anthem pop - and there's even an interesting spoken word track called "Sound of Awakening". They continued to play with an 80s-esque vibe in "Tiger Teeth" (which has actually been around since 2013!)- akin to "Aquaman" of Talking Is Hard (2012). Other stand-out tracks are "Surrender" and "Kamikaze".
Long story short - Walk The Moon is back and better than ever, and keeping with their WTM positivity and energy. One thing that I appreciate as a WTM fan is that they continue to write songs that still hold true to their alternative-rock origins. Songs like "Tightrope" and "Lisa Baby" transition into "Up 2 U" and continue into "Headphones". Sometimes it is frustrating when artists who you know are so incredible only turn out sugary pop songs from the singles factory. But Walk The Moon has both the radio-friendly hits and some more "edgy" alt stuff.
Oh, and just one more thing - this band sounds exactly like the album in a live concert. It is truly amazing, especially when so many musicians these days rely on heavy production to sound good. I've never not heard them sound perfect, in the three times that I've heard them perform live. And it's even more impressive if you consider the amount of energy and dancing that Nick does on stage!
But I digress..
So there is kind of a funny back story to this show - I bought tickets back in October through some kind of pre-sale code. With this show being at Mohegan Sun, I was expecting slightly higher prices than my usual $30-50 range, and so I decided to shell out a bit more for closer seats, given the size of the arena. I landed in Section 1, maybe 20 or so rows back, and was pretty pumped. Cut to one week before the show, and I got an email with some information about where to go for the VIP Experience, and a Q&A session, and some other pre-show things. I basically ignored that - as I figured it was sent to everyone via Ticketmaster. But a day or two before the show and I took a closer look at my tickets. Turns out I had bought a VIP Experience package deal, which included the ticket, a Q&A session with the band, pre-show access to a lounge with cash bar, crowd-free merch buying, and some other merch like a signed poster! Talk about an unexpected but pleasant surprise, right?
Well I've never had "VIP" tickets, but the Q&A session was pretty cool. About 50 of us headed into the arena where Nicholas, Kevin, Sean, and Eli were standing ready to answer questions. There were questions like, "How many songs did you write for the album before choosing which ones were on the tracklist?", "How long have you been friends for?", "What's your most embarrassing tattoo?", "How did you decide to bring Company of Thieves along as the opener?", "When was your "we made it" moment?", and "Can you talk about the album art?". I'll paraphrase of course: they wrote at least a hundred songs before narrowing it down to just 13 for What If Nothing, reusing old songs and saving others for another time; Nicholas and Kevin knew each other growing up because their moms were friends, and Eli played in bands with Kevin all throughout high school; they recently all got band tattoos on this tour (something about a cloud man? ha); they used to play alt clubs/venues out in the Midwest with Company of Thieves, who is based out of Chicago; they still don't think they've "made it" because they're always striving to be better; and Felipe Posada is the man behind the album art (@the_invisible_realm). Phew!
On to the show.
The arena wasn't packed on Saturday night (which was both surprising, and not surprising - I mean, it is Connecticut) - I could still see a ton of open seats in the upper decks and there were even some empty chairs near us on the floor. As expected, the crowd was younger (even saw a few kids under 10), and I spotted a few of the loyal WTM fans with their face paint. There was a group of four adults in front of us, who clearly did not know the band prior to the concert. Two of the men ended up really enjoying themselves, taking videos and pictures like crazy, but one of the men sat in his seat and read a book or something on his phone the entire night - what a shame! But for the most part, everyone was dancing along and having a great time. Normally, I would have taken my Sony A6300 to take photos and record, but Mohegan has a really strict photo/press pass requirement, and being the small blog that we are, FYMS wouldn't have gotten approval. So all of the videos/photos are from my phone. On the other hand, it is nice to leave behind the camera and just enjoy the show. C'est la vie.
I was not a fan of Company of Thieves. An alternative/indie band from Chicago, they were founded by vocalist Genevieve Schatz and Marc Walloch (guitar), though they toured with 4 or 5 total in the band. I just couldn't figure them out. Genevieve had one of those affected singing voices, where she sings with some sort of accent / puts different emphasis on words and vowels (sort of like Lorde, except Lorde actually has an accent); yet, she's from LA. That always bothers me..I think because it's usually a mask for lackluster vocals. Their sound was indie I guess, but one of their songs had more of a bluesy-rock feel which I didn't completely hate, but overall, I wasn't convinced of their originality or talent. Just felt kind of forced, and she was trying to be too much like Florence + The Machine during her performance. Not my cup of tea.
Finally Walk The Moon came on (to the Lion King, per usual), and opened with "Press Restart", followed by "Portugal" (which you can't help but dance to!), "Lisa Baby", and "Kamikaze". The rest of the set-list went like this:
- All That I Want
- Shiver, Shiver
- Different Colors
- Shut Up and Dance
- Lost in the Wild
- Tiger Teeth
- One Foot
- Next In Line
Their encore included "Up 2 U" and their first big hit, "Anna Sun". I think the set-list was a really good mix of all their best songs. All danceable, all high-energy - their new tracks fit in seamlessly with their older songs too. For "Aquaman", which is one of my favorites, just Nick and Eli played a stripped-down version which was a nice change of pace. For those who don't know, Nick is actually a really, really talented pianist (check out this solo version of "Surrender" if you don't believe me), but during shows he plays synth while singing. He also does the single drum thing too while he's singing, which can be cliche, but it works for them (or maybe I'm just biased, hehe). I was sad they didn't sing "Lift a Car", as that's a fun one, but they had to cut something out, right? Great set-list!
[Quick side note: I've had a hard time filming videos during WTM concerts because all I do is sing-along, and it's super obnoxious / can be heard in the video. haha so I apologize for the lack of videos, but I literally can't help myself.]
Walk The Moon continues westward on the Press Restart tour - hitting Chicago at The Aragon Ballroom (where I first saw them 4 years ago!) and then some more Midwest spots, before heading to Texas and the West coast (and ultimately overseas). They are pretty much touring straight through until April! I strongly strongly suggest you go see them on tour - bring friends, comfortable shoes, and get ready for a night of positive energy, amazing vocals, and lots of dancing! You won't be disappointed. I can't wait to catch their next show.
Company of Thieves
Think: Florence + The Machine, Lorde
Listen: Company of Thieves on Spotify
Walk The Moon
Think: Hippo Campus, The Mowgli's, The Griswolds