A night on the ‘Moon’

Walk the Moon danced onto the stage and into New Haven’s heart

By on February 5, 2019

Madison Fraitag | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
New Haven finally decided to “Shut Up and Dance” last Saturday night when band Walk the Moon took to the stage at a sold-out College Street Music Hall.

The pop-rock band announced its winter tour dates in October 2018, and is scheduled to make a tour run of the east coast and Canada from Jan. 23 to Feb. 17. The tour comes off the heels of the band’s Jan. 11 release of single “Timebomb,” hinting at the promise of a new album in 2019. The band’s last album “What If Nothing” was released in 2017, featuring hit songs “One Foot” and “Kamikaze,” ranking third and fourth most popular on its Spotify page respectively.

With Hamden and New Haven native post-punk and indie rock band Bear Hands opening for the headliners, showgoers were lined up around the block when doors opened at 7 p.m. A motley crowd of college-aged students, die-hard fans with painted faces and band t-shirts, young children clung to their parents’ hands and misfits of all ages, genders and races migrated forward toward the glowing stage.

The theater that would soon be flooded with music, pastel light and dancing bodies filled slowly but surely. Manic Presents, a New Haven-based booking and promotions company, posted just minutes before the show began that the venue was officially sold out after posting the day before saying, “I think someone should buy the last 13 tickets so I can mark this one ‘Sold Out’” on the event’s Facebook discussion page.

From the front of the general admission session, the top of the mezzanine seemed to be a mile away, but the stage appeared as a blank canvas, no matter where you were until the lights turned low and the set painted itself pink and the show began.

Bear Hands took to the stage to the mellow beat of crowd pleaser “Back Seat Driver (Spirit Guide),” setting the tone for their entire set. Flowing song to song with the slow fade of the warm lights and minimal speaking interruptions by frontman Dylan Rau, the Connecticut natives were right at home on stage.

Despite their favoring of playing to talking, Rau made sure to slip some context between bops, with a quick, “This song is about mental health, hope it hasn’t happened to you,” and an even more casual, “This song is about dining and ditching,” setting the scene for the following minutes of meaningful (or not) music.

After roughly 40 minutes of chill beats pulsing through the crowd, Bear Hands closed with one of its biggest hits, both by its popularity and its name,“Giants.” After the band of four hit its last notes and said its final thank yous and goodbyes, the stage was cleared and prepped for the main event. As final trips to the bathrooms and bar were hastily made, anticipation piled on and the general admission crowd pressed forward toward the front barricade.

Madison Fraitag | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
And finally, our headliners.

Walk the Moon bounded into the lights to 2012 jam “Lisa Baby” from the band’s self-titled album, starting the show with strong participation and enthusiasm from everyone in the house. Following up the opener with heavy sing-along tracks including “Different Colors,” “Tiger Teeth” and “Surrender,” the band found its way to its latest single, but not without lead singer Nicholas Petricca commending the crowd for its passionate performance right back at them.

“Look at you,” he beamed, as the crowd threw its hands and voices at the Ohio hailing group. The show marked the band’s first time performing in New Haven, or as the printed setlist that was eventually tossed to the crowd read, “Nu Haven,” despite its touring of northeastern cities in passed years. And while this may have been just another first stop for the increasingly popular group, it played out as much more than that for the crowd.

During the nearly two hour set, attendees soaked in every song, from the band’s smash hit “Shut Up and Dance” to the cult classic dancing jam “Aquaman.” The set rounded out with the high energy noise of “Headphones,” but the crowd knew that their act wouldn’t leave them wanting more–there was no doubt and no surprise when Walk the Moon returned to deliver two of its most popular tracks, “Portugal” and “Anna Sun.”

Many thank yous and a patient exit from the band later, the show had come to a close, but for eager fans the night still held promise. Those who resisted jetting out into the cold and back to the comfort of their homes, cars or a neighboring bar were met by Bear Hands members in the lobby, eager to meet, chat up and take photos with fans. Sharpies in hand, the musicians welcomed each and every admirer’s request for a selfie or signature.

After grabbing their merch and a quick meet and greet, about a dozen of the most dedicated folks in New Haven (and your determined reporter) waited in the cold as technicians loaded up trailers and the opening act packed into a van and left for its next destination. After roughly an hour and a half, Walk the Moon bassist Kevin Ray made his way to the band’s bus with luggage in hand, but made a point to return to the chilly street and personally thank all remaining fans for attending and braving the 20-something degree weather to meet him.

And that, folks, was this writer’s breaking point.

Despite missing out on the remaining headliners’ exit, the two groups provided a personalized, beautiful night of lyrics, lights and lasting impacts on fans who were just happy to hear their favorite band perform live. And that’s what a night of music is all about.

Comments

About Madison Fraitag

Creative Director
Film, Television and Media Major
Class of 2019