w/ Meg Myers, Vance Joy, & KONGOS
It was back in November that I discovered how much I really like this band, Walk The Moon. Signed to RCA Records, they're on the verge of becoming a household name, but aren't quite there yet. Sometimes I like my music to be more underground because there's more purity in the mission. And other times, I like to find bands who have the ability to go mainstream. It just depends. In this case, Walk The Moon falls into the latter category, but luckily it doesn't take away from the talent that's there. Their self-titled debut album (2012) is one that I can listen to on repeat, which is always a plus. TALKING IS HARD (2014) leans a bit more towards electro-pop, but it's still a solid listen.
Chicago radio station 101 WKQX hosted this show, called The Nights We Stole Christmas, and put together this lineup of Meg Myers, Vance Joy, KONGOS, and Walk The Moon. Aragon Ballroom is a really great venue for packing in a large crowd and always seems to put on a high-energy show. Plus. they have a great lighting system, which is always one of my favorite parts of the show (weird, I know). It usually grabs artists who are on their way to becoming/ or are already pretty mainstream - just this year, Aragon Ballroom booked acts like Chromeo, Bastille, Lana Del Ray, The Neighbourhood, and Florida Georgia Line. The atmosphere is also really unique, featuring castle decor and a ceiling painted like the night sky. You can stand on the floor with the majority of people who want to dance, or stand/sit along the balcony on the second floor. I've done both (for Ellie Goulding and The Neighbourhood, respectively), and while it's nice to be able to see and not feel like a sardine, it is slightly more fun to be on the floor with everyone else. The fact that the Ballroom's max capacity is only 4,500 doesn't take away from the feeling of a big arena-sized show, which is nice every once in a while.
Meg Myers opened the show - this 28-year-old from Nashville certainly doesn't sound like your typical Nashville musician. She's definitely a rocker chick, reminded me of the band KITTEN (who opened for The NBHD show), or Fiona Apple, with Shakira-like vibrato and Lorde-like dance moves. She had a good set, the crowd really liked her, but she definitely lacked in personality. I don't think Meg addressed the crowd once, which was kind of off-putting. But she has an intense, dark vibe that sits well with the right audience. Check out her hit song, "Desire" here and decide for yourself.
Next was Australian indie-pop singer-songwriter Vance Joy, who you probably know for his popular song "Riptide". Not to hate on the organizers of the show too much, but I don't think he belonged in this lineup. Joy is OK - I'm not a big fan, but his acoustic style definitely clashed with Meg Myers' style before and the KONGOS vibe after. I think the audience kind of took a nap during his set, except for when he played "Riptide". I'm surprised to read that he signed a five-album deal with Atlantic - not sure if he has the ability to diversify his sound, but I could be wrong! We'll see. I wandered around for half of his set, trying to re-position for the KONGOS.
KONGOS, on the other hand, is a really sick alternative rock band. The band is made up of four brothers, Dylan (bass, vocals), Daniel (guitar, vocals), Jesse (drums, vocals), and Johnny (vocals/accordion/keys), from South Africa. They've been stateside since 1996 (Arizona), but their style of music is definitely influenced by their heritage. KONGOS album Lunatic contains hits like "Come With Me Now" (which you've heard on NBC Sports aplenty), "I'm Only Joking", and "Hey, I Don't Know". They're a bit bluesy with that slide guitar, but mostly they're rock. They will be touring for a solid month and a half in 2015 to promote Lunatic (surprisingly not stopping in Chicago!) so I definitely suggest going to one of their shows if you can. I really enjoyed their set (although their mics weren't loud enough) - KONGOS got the energy back up for Walk The Moon.
Nicholas Petricca (vocals, keys/synth), Kevin Ray (bass, vocals), Sean Waugaman (drums, vocals), and Eli Maiman (guitar, vocals) came walking out on stage to "The Circle of Life" theme-song from the Lion King (ha!), and then opened with my favorite song, "Tightrope". The crowd, mostly teens, was loving the vibe right away - all we wanted to do was dance! Luckily, that is Walk The Moon's specialty. They played a long list of up-beat songs like, "Next in Line", "Down In The Dumps", "Spend Your $$$", and "Shiver Shiver". It was Kevin Ray's birthday, so that was kind of cool! More songs included "Avalanche" and their currently popular song "Shut Up And Dance", and then they slowed it down for their 80s-esque song "Aquaman". Another one of my favorites was "I Can Lift A Car", during which the guys got some audience participation dance moves. And they ended the encore with their first big hit, "Anna Sun", complete with beach balls for us to hit around.
It might not sound like much in writing, but Walk The Moon put on one of my favorite shows this year. Their style of music actually hits a few different genres, resulting a wide range of songs that are equally great - from dance songs like "Anna Sun" to slower, carefully built songs like "Iscariot", I think that these guys have written two solid albums from start to finish that translate into live performances that are full of energy and fun. I'm pretty confident that everyone there really enjoyed the Walk The Moon set, and it's hard to ignore a band with that much talent and positive energy. I've been jamming to their debut album for the past month and I'm still not sick of it! Can't wait for their next trip to Chicago, but in the meantime, I'll just be dancing alone in my room to "Shiver Shiver".
Think: Young The Giant, Fitz & The Tantrums, New Politics, Atlas Genius, The Mowgli's
Tweet: @WALKTHEMOONband, @wtmkevin, @petricholas, @johnbloggaman, @brosemaiman