“How many of you have never, ever been to one of our shows?” asked Walk the Moon singer Nicholas Petricca halfway through the band’s show at The Fillmore Miami Beach on Tuesday. There was a very scant show of hands, no surprise, considering this was the first time Walk the Moon ever played Miami.
“Well, all you Walk the Moon virgins, this is where we initiate you,” he said with a smile, before leading the audience into a shed-your-troubles-away little ritual that involved a lot of hands up in the air as a prelude to “I Can Lift a Car.”
The moment provided a telling snapshot of Walk the Moon, the alt/pop-rock quartet that at first listen comes across as simply fun but that, throughout its maiden Miami voyage (as part of their Talking Is Hard tour), also displayed nuance and a surprising command of the stage for a group only on its sophomore album.
Although seven years old, Walk the Moon only broke into mainstream consciousness this year with their massive hit “Shut Up and Dance.” But judging from the Miami crowd that was also enthusiastically singing along to songs from the group’s 2012 self-titled debut, their following is loyal and growing.
And it’s well-deserved.
In its 16-song set, Walk the Moon played mostly uptempo, energetic songs (starting with the irresistible “Jenny,” from the group’s first album) with immediately catchy choruses. Although the sound was sometimes way too muddy and boomy on the guitar, the group is tight. And WTM has finesse. The Ohio quartet (which also includes Eli Maiman on guitar, Kevin Ray on bass and Sean Waugaman on drums) is fond of introducing surprising rhythmic changes and rich vocal harmonies and can also go way out of the box as they do in the more atmospheric “Aquaman.”
Petricca is a charismatic frontman who sings center stage at his keyboard and is very good at leading the crowd into frenzied sing-alongs and jumps with one hand while playing bass lines with the other. But he’s also good at trading riffs with Maiman, a dynamic guitarist.
WTM’s staging was sparse, and the Tuesday night scheduling meant many young fans weren’t able to attend the show. But that didn’t diminish the group or the fan’s unrelenting energy in the crowded lower bowl.
“To all our friends from south of the border, gracias por venir,” said Petricca, before launching into “Shut up and Dance.”
The three words in Spanish were, of course, a nod to Miami. A small detail that, like so many other small details in Walk the Moon’s music, makes a big difference.