Live Review: Walk the Moon + The Griswolds – The Gov, Adelaide (23.01.16)

On a Saturday night in Adelaide, The Gov played host to two bands who have, over the past year, formed a bromance that has taken them right throughout the United States and now, to Australia. Walk The Moon and The Griswolds have a dynamic that clicks so well together and when you see both bands perform on the same stage over the course of an evening, there’s no wonder as to how some guys from Ohio and some other guys from Sydney get on like a house on fire.

It’s been a minute or two since The Griswolds have played Adelaide, if you don’t count their Flinders University set some time back. The last time they headlined a venue here was on their album tour and even then, it was obvious to see that they were always going to be headed off for bigger things. It’s interesting to see them perform tonight, knowing that yes, they still had an east coast run of dates with Walk the Moon to follow, but they’d soon enough be flying back to the US for yet another tour of North America. Follow them on social media and you’ll see the fan base that has grown for this band internationally, yet in Australia, The Griswolds are definitely well-received but haven’t broken through that ceiling yet.

They take to the stage while it’s still daylight and it’s not long before people have come in from the beer garden to check them out. Not having seen them perform for a few years, I watched The Griswolds with that same anticipation you would a band who you’re seeing for the first time. Their pop music is exciting, fun and all-inclusive. As a band, the amount of time touring and bringing shows to massive stages has rubbed off incredibly well; Chris Whitehall leads with more confidence than I remember, Tim John and Lachlan West have a bass/percussion partnership that shines and Danny Duque-Perez also stands out on his own on guitar. While the set list may have been one they’ve rolled out for some time with particular highlights (“16 Years”, “Live This Nightmare”) and memorable favourites (“Mississippi”, “The Courtship of Summer Preasley”), the calibre of The Griswolds’ live show has definitely been upped and I’m sad it’s going to be some time before we see them back headlining again (album #2 is in process).

Throwing the spotlight onto the headliners for the evening, I’ll fully admit that aside from a few tracks off Talking Is Hard, my Walk The Moon knowledge was fairly scant. But it was a nice feeling being surrounded by so many fans who were excitedly talking about them as we waited for them to emerge from the green room. I had forgotten completely that they’d played Adelaide previously, having toured with The Rubens, and thinking about it now, I couldn’t put those two bands together. I’d heard people had left that show after they played, Walk The Moon were that good and now, I was able to see what the fuss was about.

Nick Petricca seemed to never be lacking in energy, the Walk The Moon frontman positively bouncing onstage, ensuring the audience was always involved and aware of the band’s excitement to be back in Australia. The five piece, like The Griswolds, also fuse together incredibly well when it comes to live performance. It’s clear that they all have their moments to shine at various points during the show but as a collective, they’re a fiercely fun pop act. Their cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” does brilliant justice to the original and slots in perfectly with their other material featured during their show. It’s an impressive set, leaning predominantly on the band’s 2014 release, but also revisiting 2012’s Walk the Moon too.

Finishing their main set with the radio-flogged hit “Shut Up and Dance”, Walk The Moon launched into this song in particular recklessly, knowing full well they had limited time left with this audience. They made it count. A brief interlude before returning for their encore, Walk The Moon lavished praise on the Adelaide crowd who by this point, was a messy, sweaty and ecstatic collective of teenagers, fans who’d returned off the back of their debut at HQ and newcomers like myself.

I’m loving the fact that people are becoming more accepting of pop as a genre, particularly because there are so many influences from other strands of music that have been weaving themselves into those standard pop choruses and arrangements we’ve all heard before. Sure, there is some shitty pop music out there but as these two bands proved (and no doubt will continue to do so), when it’s done well, it’s done brilliantly.

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