WALK THE MOON at OGDEN THEATRE | 10/26/13 For a band that played the Hi-Dive two years ago, Walk The Moon has done extremely well for itself, and if this sold out show was any indication, the band will be playing a much larger venue the next time around. The foursome was so strong from beginning to end, it's hard to pinpoint any one high point.
The recorded versions of these songs are good, but seeing these guys perform them live was simply impressive. Musically, it was reminiscent of early era Talk Talk, and Petricca's powerful and expertly controlled falsetto had a richness reminiscent of Mark Hollis, especially on tunes like "Tightrope" with its HEALTH-like, noise-laced intro. "Fixin'" found Eli Maiman channeling a bit of Robin Guthrie with the ghostly, gently swirling guitar tones.
The backdrop looked like a cartoon tree house, which suited the abstract tree design lighting that flanked the drum set. Together, the props the band brought, and the regular stage lighting gave the show a feeling of hyper reality, like it we were seeing a colorful, live music video with each song. The band seemed genuinely thrilled with how much love it was getting from the audience, which Petricca repeatedly acknowledged, even using the words "dream come true" at one point, referring to how he felt about the show.
The set closed with a song that inspired more mass hand waving and fist pumping than anyone has probably seen at the Ogden in a good long while. During "Anna Sun," it genuinely felt like the same level of energy you'd get at a place with five to ten times as many people. The guys didn't wait long to come back, and when they returned, you could tell how happy they were. They even posed for a group shot with the crowd in the background.
Geeky? Sure, but these guys knew they had played what had to be one of the best shows of their career so far, and that's what you do if you can. After that, the opening strains of a song that sounded familiar at first ended up actually being one of the greatest versions of "Burning Down The House" by the Talking Heads since that band last played it in the '80s. Petricca nailed Byrne's vocals and tonal mannerisms, without doing some sort of awkward pantomime. The show ended with "Jenny," and the band got the crowd to sing the chorus; it felt like you were really part of something special instead of just seeing another good show.
Keep reading for a review of the Mowgli's, plus setlists and Critic's Notebook
Before Walk the Moon's set, the Mowgli's came on stage to a slowly building bass pulse, and when it kicked into "Waiting For the Dawn," it was like we were seeing a musical, only less cheesy with little conventional dialogue and with far better songs. The positivity of the outfit was obvious, but their enthusiasm never came across as insincere or gimmicky.
As with Walk the Moon set, the crowd was very much into the Mowgli's, and like Walk the Moon, the Mowgli's sensed this strongly and remarked to that effect throughout its performance. Borrowing from gospel music, only imparting a far less specific spiritual message about the strengthening of the human spirit through love, the Mowgli's perfectly melded solid, inventive pop songwriting to something positive with intention in a way that didn't seem preachy or like the band was straight out of some kind of youth group.
This approach was especially effective on songs like "Leave It Up to Me," where the band poked some fun at itself, albeit gently so. When the group played the last two songs, everybody sang along to "The Great Divide," and many in the crowd were jumping up and down excitedly all the way from the back of the balcony when the band rolled out its biggest hit, "San Francisco."
Earlier in the evening, a band called Smallpools from New Jersey opened the show with a seven song set. Apparently, the outfit had played at the Marquis earlier in the year, and many people were familiar with the band, even thought it doesn't really have much recorded output beyond an EP yet -- and that's saying something.
The act is still clearly figuring out what exactly it wants to be and what it wants to do, but there was no faulting the musicianship and the enthusiasm of the band on stage. The gang vocal choruses didn't really seem to gel, but there were some strong songs in the set like "American Love," which definitely got people excited, even those who didn't seem to know the band. The cover of New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" was spot on, but it was a bit like seeing a band covering Republica or Len. Nevertheless, the band's mix of R&B and synth pop was promising.
Walk the Moon Ogden Theatre - 10/26/13 Denver, CO
01. Next In Line 02. Quesadilla 03. Lisa Baby 04. [new song] 05. Tightrope 06. Anywayican 07. Tête-A- Tête 08. [new song] 09. Shiver Shiver 10. Me And All My Friends 11. Iscariot 12. Fixin' 13. I Can Life A Car 14. Anna Sun
15. Burning Down the House [Talking Heads cover] 16. Jenny
The Mowgli's Ogden Theatre - 10/26/13 Denver, CO
01. Waiting For the Dawn 02. Emily 03. Slowly Slowly 04. Live Is Easy 05. Say It, Just Say It 06. Hi, Hey There, Hello 07. Carry Your Will 08. Leave It Up To Me 09. Clean Light 10. The Great Divide 11. San Francisco
Personal Bias: I was already a fan of the Mowgli's, and I liked Walk the Moon, but this show absolutely made me a fan. Random Detail: Met this cool guy and his wife who have lived in Denver since the '90s and had never been to a show at the Ogden. They randomly saw Walk The Moon on TV one night and found out the band was playing in town and bought tickets shortly after they went on sale. This is a rarity. By the Way: This is easily one of the top ten shows I've seen at the Ogden because it definitely felt like we got to see something special.
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