Performer: Walk The Moon
Hangout Fest: Saturday, May 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the Hangout Fest Stage
Type of music: Alternative/Indie Rock
About: On first listen, many of Walk The Moon’s songs sound like they came straight out of the 1980s. For band founder and lead singer Nick Petricca, that’s intentional.
“I think the plan was always to make pop, rock’n’roll that was a little left-of-center,” he told Interview Magazine in 2011. “It was pretty much the stuff that has always inspired me growing up. I wouldn’t say that I predicted necessarily that it would sound quite like this. I think we were finding our sound for a few years before landing on our sound.”
The band lists the Talking Heads, David Bowie, The Police and Phil Collins as some of its main influences. That 80s pop/synth sound shows up in full force in the band’s breakout 2015 hit, “Shut Up and Dance.”
The song, which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart, was inspired by a real event during the development of the band’s third album. “Shut Up and Dance” also peaked at No. 2 on Top 40 radio and broke the record for consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart at the time.
“We were in Los Angeles, trying to write songs, and I was stuck,” Petricca told Billboard in 2014. “For a breather I went out with my girlfriend to [a club]; they have this awesome party where they play Motown and funk. We were at the bar, and it was taking forever to get a drink. I was frustrated because there was great music playing and I wanted to be out there. She was like, ‘Shut up and dance with me!’”
The multi-platinum track won Top Rock Song and Top Radio Song at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards and also led to an MTV Music Video Award nomination for Best Rock Video and American Music Award nominations for Favorite Pop/Rock Duo Or Group, New Artist of the Year and Favorite Alternative Rock Artist. Walk the Moon was also nominated for an iHeart Radio Music Award for Best Duo/Group of the Year, Song of the Year and Alternative Rock Song of the Year.
Although “Shut Up and Dance” was a worldwide success, the group began its journey back in 2006 at Kenyon College in Ohio, choosing the name “Walk The Moon” after the song “Walking on the Moon” by The Police. The group self-released its first album in 2010 before signing with RCA records.
“Anna Sun,” the lead single off the band’s second album, became a moderate success on the Alternative charts and brought the band a dedicated following. The music video for “Anna Sun” saw the group using face paint, something that became a tradition at its early live shows.
The band’s third album, Talking is Hard, which includes “Shut Up and Dance,” was released in 2014, followed by its most recent release, What If Nothing, in 2017.
The group is grateful for the success of “Shut Up and Dance,” and hopes it serves as an entry point for new fans to discover the heart and soul of the band’s message.
“‘Shut Up and Dance’ kind of carries this torch of our dorky spirit,” guitarist Eli Maiman told Vulture in 2015, “but ‘Different Colors’ [the second single from Talking Is Hard] is a chance for us to speak to something that’s really important to us, which is diversity and sort of empowering people, especially kids, to have the courage to be themselves and to stand out and celebrate differences.”
You might have heard:
“Shut Up and Dance,” “Different Colors,” “Anna Sun,” “Tightrope,” “One Foot”
For fans of: The 1975, Vampire Weekend, Foster The People, Young the Giant, Neon Trees