Sometimes talking is hard. When words fail, it’s often best to just shut up and dance. This Friday, May 27, may be such a time, as S.B. Bowl attendees will have the chance to drop the words and pick up their kicks when Cincinnati’s Walk the Moon beams down to the stage with special guests MisterWives. Since breaking onto the radio-rock scene with 2011’s “Anna Sun,” Walk the Moon has been pumping out celebratory anthems and worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, standing out as one of the catchier acts riding the media waves.
The success has been a welcome surprise for the foursome, and a bit of a head-trip, says guitarist Eli Maiman — particularly since “Shut Up and Dance” rocketed them into the furthest atmospheres of present-day pop-rock fame. “It’s been a real trip. We’ve gotten to take our music all over the world and had the chance to open for enormous acts and an enormous variety of acts, and of course do our own headlining shows,” he said. “It continues to grow and grow, so every time you start to think you got a handle on this as the way it works, something new comes.”
This includes getting used to the sight of semitrucks loading in stage equipment or playing beneath the widening glow of bigger light shows. They’ve also made several appearances on late night, making stops on Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, and Carson Daly’s shows, and have found a special supporter in Seth Meyers, on whose show they first played “Shut Up and Dance” on TV.
But most amazing for the band is the magnitude of fans and the kind of pop talent such an audience attracts, such as Taylor Swift, with whom the band played “Shut Up and Dance” in Foxborough, Massachusetts. “Playing with one of, if not the biggest artist of our generation, in front of 60,000 fans in Boston, is a pretty awe-inspiring moment. Hearing those 60,000 people singing along was pretty epic,” Maiman said.
Walk the Moon’s worry-ridding chart-toppers resound throughout stadiums frequently these days. They have made several live sports appearances in their hometown of Cincinnati for baseball and football, including a national anthem rendition. Their affiliation with sports is a natural one, with the band writing songs that aim to inspire a sense of mass empowerment. “I think something that we always wanted to capture in our music is a sense of it being a battle cry, or a rallying point, for community and for groups of people,” Maiman said.
Walk the Moon’s fame is due in huge part to their message, which is an optimism of abandonment, the freedom of feeling that comes when you let go of the things dragging you down. It’s a seize-the-day optimism that the band feels on a personally political level; when asked how the band might colonize the moon, given their name, Maiman was quick to offer an earthly model. “If you wanna know what our colony would be like, go to Bernie Sanders’s website and get educated,” he said, adding that though the band is not abjectly political — all the Talking Is Hard material was written pre-election madness — some of the songs, such as “Different Colors” and “Up 2 U,” have taken on an even greater meaning as the band tours amid the electoral chaos. The four have found themselves becoming advocates for inner change in the hope it might lead to a better world.
“The audience that we are playing to can change the world, and if we allow them to vote, we can make a huge difference not just in our country right now but in the direction of the world, so we need to go out and act now before it’s too late,” he said. “We hope that we are inspiring people to take ownership of the future and rise up for the good of everyone.”
Walk the Moon plays with MisterWives Friday, May 27, at 7 p.m. at the S.B. Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.). For more information, call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.