Having seen Walk the Moon briefly at Firefly Festival this summer, I wanted more. As infectious as their Top 40 Wundersong “Shut Up and Dance” is on radio, this band begs to be seen live. His Holiness Pope Francis would be in Central Park the next day, and barricades lined Fifth Avenue, cement trucks blocked entrances to Central Park, and New York City’s Finest were shoulder-to-shoulder on City streets, but a capacity crowd of 5,000 screaming fans and I braved the ramparts to rock out in near-religious ecstasy.
Singer/keyboardist Nicholas Petricca started Walk the Moon in college in 2008, but switched personnel completely in 2010, making some good choices. Guitarist Eli Maiman looks like a teddy bear, but he’s got the moves like Jagger (or Mark Farner), and the chops to match. Kevin Ray keeps the heartbeat on the express tracks and Sean Waugaman’s drums form a pillar of the band’s irresistible sound. Walk the Moon hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, a heartland city so small that the main airport is actually in another state (Kentucky), and they’re relatively young, but they’ve studied stagecraft and become damned good at it. Running, jumping, vamping at the edge of the stage, these guys worked the crowd like taffy, and we loved it.
The audience, 70% women between the ages of 14 and 60, knew all the words to every song in the two-hour set. Near me, Eli Maiman’s mother sang along, and so did a couple and their little girl, maybe 10 years old, although by the encore at 10:30 PM, she was clearly out too late on a school night. Cops traded places from time to time to get a close-up view; no one is immune. When an overheated Petricca threw his shirt off, the crowd was already wild.
They’re only into their second full CD, and Walk the Moon’s songs definitely have a particular sound, but the similarities don’t add up to boring, they’re equally exciting. Trust me, the Pope should have ditched our lackluster Mayor (nicknamed Mayor TheBlahsYouKnow) and had some actual fun with us at SummerStage.
– Suzanne Cadgène
Photos by Suzanne Cadgène