A long line of fans, covered in all kinds of rainbow and neon face paint, wrapped all the way around from the entrance to the Theatre of Living Arts to Steaks on South Street Feb. 1. The air was cold and the sun was down. The crowd was anxiously waiting to get inside the venue as the temperature outside quickly dropped. The shivering fans standing outside were waiting for sold-out indie-rock band WALK THE MOON to begin the show.
The venue doors opened, and the crowd rushed into the venue to get their spots near the front.
Once inside the venue, the coat check section by the door had a sign that read “Full — no more space.” The weather outside was so cold and the crowd so large that there wasn’t even enough space to keep all the winter coats. Some unhappy fans stood in the back of the crowd holding their winter jackets in hand.
Scattered throughout the face paint-covered crowd was a colorful sea of glow sticks and balloons. People came dressed in eye-catching costumes, hoping to get recognized by the band as they crowd-surfed over the fans to the stage. Guys in cheetah print footie-pajamas, Native-American headdresses and glow-in-the-dark clothing were among them.
WALK THE MOON originated in Cincinnati and consists of frontman Nicholas Petricca on vocals, keys and bass drum; Kevin Ray on bass; Sean Waugaman on drums; and Eli Maiman on guitar. Their songs “Anna Sun” and “Tightrope” have been heavily played and featured on radio stations and TV channels around the world.
WALK THE MOON had played the Winter Jam for Radio 104.5 Jan. 26 along with performances from Matt & Kim, Twenty One Pilots, June Divided, and Tegan and Sara. The fans gathered in the 9-degree freezing cold from noon to 5 p.m. and watched each band’s set.
Throughout the Feb. 1 show, Petricca yelled to the crowd, “We encourage you to get a little weird; we encourage you to express yourself!”
“Will you walk with us?” Petricca asked, and the crowd roared in approval.
At the halfway point in their set, Petricca got serious, saying, “You guys have been awesome, but I don’t think anyone has totally lost their minds yet. I want you to lose your minds. I want this whole place to shake.” As the next song began to play, the crowd went wild. Crowd surfers popped up along the surface of the crowd, and the fans jumped with the beat of the music.
After playing the final song, “Anna Sun,” the band came back onstage to play a two-song encore in response to the crowd’s roar for more music. As they stepped back onstage, Ray came out wearing a bra hand-painted with what looked to be the band’s album cover art — one of the fans had thrown it onstage.
After the first the encore song, Petricca said, “We have one more song to play if you’ll have us. It’s something you can do every day with music. Just take all the s— that’s been bothering you and smush it into a little ball — an ugly, nasty little ball — and then with all your strength I want you to push it out of your body. I want you to feel it leave your heart, go through your veins, up past your shoulders, past your elbows and your wrists and your fingertips and then let it evaporate into the air.” The entire crowd stood with their arms raised high in the air. Petricca continued, “So now all that you have left inside of you is this open part, with all of those good feelings.”
With that, they played their final song of the night, “I Can Lift a Car,” an inspirational song about getting rid of all those negative thoughts and putting them all aside knowing that you can do anything.
As the band began to exit the stage, Petricca left the crowd with a few final words: “Go home with all the good stuff and leave all the bad stuff here.”