In Walk The Moon’s music video for “Anna Sun,” their top 10 alternative hit, there is a door that acts as a portal to another dimension filled with forests, magic and a kind of pure joy that only exists in the fantasy worlds of youthful imagination. This weekend when I walked through the door at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre, I stepped into a real version of this place swirling with young fans, their smiling faces decorated with a rainbow of streaks and blobs of neon color, mimicking the painted people from the video. As I waited for the band to come on, I mingled about the vibrant crowd that was buzzing with an electric energy that I had never seen at a show before.
Finally the curtain lifted and Walk The Moon sauntered onto the dark stage as a warped eerie monologue from Willy Wonka rang out. Then, in a synesthetic explosion of color and sound, bright blue and green lights came on revealing the band, faces smeared with paint, a huge version of the group’s album cover featuring a technicolor abstract drawing of tree houses behind them. The theater rumbled with the deafening cries from the audience as they broke into “Liftaway,” a song from their first independently released debut album, i want! i want!. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca began beating a drum and playing the keyboards as he sang, heightening the already overwhelming atmosphere. The multicolored war paint, the set design, and the community of fans all intensely invested in the performance made it feel as though I was watching Peter Pan’s Lost Boys putting on a rock show in the middle of Never Never Land to a group of faithful young warriors for fun.
Forgoing small talk, so as not to disturb the momentum, the band effortlessly transitioned from one theatre-rattling song to the next, maintaining an unprecedented palpable energy in the audience who cheered as if each tune infused with eltro beats and thumping drums was the band’s finale. As they filled every inch of the auditorium with tracks like “Tightrope,” “Drunk In The Woods,” and “I Can Lift A Car,” it was like watching a musical version of a Jackson Pollock painting, splattering the audience with bursts of color and melody.
Throughout the entirety of their performance, every member of the audience kept their hands outstretched to the sky as if they were at some transcendent Christian rock show. When they eventually reached the end of their set, everyone screamed out defiantly. Unlike most encores that are preceded by bored perfunctory clapping, this encore was actually authentic; the audience was genuinely demanding that Walk The Moon return for at least one more song. When they came back out, people’s voices and hands were raw from cheering so ear-splittingly loud. “This is the most incredible feeling,” Petricca said, and it was clear that he was echoing the emotions of the mass of people he was playing for.
Out of all the shows I’ve seen, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the presence of such a truly euphoric crowd. As I commented on this fact, one of the fans, cheeks covered in red and purple paint, turned to me and said, “I know. It’s like this band is a weird drug, and I’m on it.” After witnessing this show, I understand why Walk The Moon is often called an “art-rock” group. They truly put on more than just a musical concert, they put on an interactive performance, making the rapt listeners feel as though the show was a communal event, an experience that each member of their colorful tribe was a part of. Absolutely go see this show, even if you’ve never heard anything besides “Anna Sun.”
By: Darianne Dobbie