Walk the Moon’s hit single is the definition of ubiquitous in Dallas — even going as far as getting radio play on a country station despite its very synth pop sound. So it was no surprise when the band’s upcoming tour date at House of Blues sold out so quickly that tour promoters hastily found a slightly larger venue, South Side Ballroom, to hold the throngs of eager fans decked out in their face paint and Coachella-esque headbands. The change to South Side Ballroom ended up being nice nostalgic throwback for the band, who held the opening slot at the same venue last fall when they came through town, and now they’re selling it out as headliners.
South Side Ballroom might just well prove to be an opening band’s lucky charm as was made evident by the warm reception to Australia’s The Griswolds. Sometimes opening for a hit band with a young fanbase can be a curse as the fans can be disinterested and impatient with openers, but The Griswolds captivated the crowd from start with the fast paced “Right on Track.” The Griswolds complement Walk the Moon’s sound well and are equally as effervescent and danceable in their music as their tourmates. They were the perfect pick for openers.
Buried in a sea of wavy hair and thrashing on guitars and synths, The Griswolds were fun to watch, and at times, came across as a bit more “rock and roll” than their laid back tour mates. “If You Wanna Stay” has one of those driving unforgettable pounding piano riffs that enunciates a youthful carefree chorus that could easily make this tune the next summer anthem. Meanwhile, songs like “Be Impressive” and “Down and Out” had the audience clapping along and there was even a strong chorus of audience members singing along with every song.
The Griswolds’ tour with Walk the Moon wraps this Saturday, May 9, but they’ll be embarking on a statewide headlining tour later this summer and returning to Dallas at the House of Blues – Cambridge Room on July 16.
The Griswolds Set List:
Right On Track
The Courtship of Summer Preasley
If You Wanna Stay
Live This Nightmare
Down and Out
Beware the Dog
Heart of a Lion
Walk the Moon is a bit goofy in a very charming sort of way, so after the crowd was good and warmed up by The Griswolds, Walk the Moon took to the stage to the “Circle of Life” from the Lion King. It wouldn’t be the last silly film the reference of the night — a surprise interlude would work the Jurassic Park theme into a song later in the set. After taking to the stage, the band jumped right into the earworm-y “ooh-ew-ooh-ew-ooos” of “Different Colors” and immediately had the crowd jumping and screaming.
Since this is the Talking Is Hard tour in promotion of the band’s latest album release, many of the songs from the set were from that album with classics like “Tightrope”, “I Can Lift a Car” and “Anna Sun” sprinkled in for the longtime fans. While a quick band survey of the crowd revealed that most of the crowd was seeing them for the first time, the audience kept up with every word and it was clear that even if many of these people only knew the band from “Shut Up and Dance”, they had become real fans and learned everything else that goes with them. There were few down moments in the set as songs like “Shiver Shiver” and “Work This Body” kept the crowd pumped and bustling. As the body heat of the packed audience made the venue sickeningly hot, I did find my one regret was that the band didn’t play something slower like the chilling “Iscariot” to give everyone a chance to cool off.
While many girls in the crowd hungrily watched the every move of the attractive bassist Kevin Ray, all eyes should have been on the (also attractive) guitarist Eli Maiman. Eli stole the show with his tight playing and rock star moves. Frequently he would jump on a platform just left of singer Nicholas Petricca and just whip through a complex riff without breaking a sweat. I’ve seen the band before but as the new record places more importance on the guitar and synths and less on the gang-style drumming, it’s never been more clear just what a killer musician Eli is on stage.
Walk the Moon is a band that never forgot their roots, even with all their success, and they wear their influences on their sleeves. Many people, if they didn’t discover them on the radio, discovered them on YouTube through their covers or acoustic tunes. This is why favorite tune of the night wasn’t a new song, a radio hit or an old classic. It was a flawless cover of the Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.” The band didn’t really add any frills or drastically change the melody. They kept it pretty much the same as the Killers’ version and that’s part of what made it so great (why change perfection?). I almost had to do a double take when singer Nick started off with the tune to make sure he was actually singing and not just letting a recording of Brandon Flowers play over their instrumentals. And of course, the “I’ve got soul” chorus gave Walk the Moon chance to do what they do best — harmonize.
Walk the Moon’s tour wraps up May 9 before they head to the UK for a brief headlining stint, but if you missed them this time around, they’ll be back to their relentless touring of the states soon. In the interim, keep up with the band’s instagram for daily covers and musical tributes.
Walk the Moon Set List:
Down in the Dumps
Up 2 U
Work This Body
I Can Lift a Car
Shut Up and Dance
All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers cover)