By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Senior Photojournalist
Venue: Busch Gardens Wine and Food Festival Concert Series, Tampa, Florida. Saturday, April 9th, 2022
Maybe you didn’t recognize the band’s name at first, I didn’t. But if you haven’t heard their ubiquitous 2014 international breakout hit, “SHUT UP + DANCE,” you’ve obviously been living in a tiny cabin in the middle of an island 1000 miles away from land, with no electricity or internet, in the Bermuda Triangle that disappears for 20 years and comes back for one day. It’s been featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Good Morning America, for starters. The song reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a number-one hit on the magazine’s Alternative Songs chart and the Hot Adult Contemporary chart. Ryan Seed of Billboard gave “Shut Up and Dance” four and a half stars out of five. Outside the United States, the song topped the charts in Poland, peaked within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom, the top twenty of the charts in New Zealand and Sweden, and the top thirty of the charts in the Netherlands.
In July 2015, Cincinnati-originated Walk the Moon performed “Shut Up and Dance” in front of a hometown crowd at Great American Ball Park, prior to the start of the Home Run Derby. On July 24, 2015, they joined Taylor Swift on stage at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, during her 1989 tour to perform “Shut Up and Dance”. On November 16, 2015, the group sang the national anthem preceding a Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans, which was played at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Walk the Moon performed “Shut Up and Dance” live at the 43rd Annual American Music Awards (AMA) on November 22, 2015. They were first-time AMA nominees for: New Artist of the Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group, and Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock. On January 1, 2016, Walk the Moon performed “Shut Up and Dance” and “Work This Body” on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in New York to honor the New Year.
Not that they’ve been slacking since, mind you. Despite interference from the pandemic, they’ve put out two more studio albums, made numerous appearances, and performed their version of “Ghostbusters” for the 2016 remake film.
The band was founded by Nicholas William Petricca – lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion (2006–present), bass (2009–2010, 2020–present), and currently includes Sean Byron Waugaman – drums, percussion, backing vocals (2010–present), Eli Brose Maiman – guitar, backing vocals (2011–present), bass (2020–present), and for touring, Lachlan West – keyboards, electronic drums, percussion, backing vocals (2017–present), bass (2020–present). The band announced in late 2020 that Kevin Colter Ray – bass, backing vocals (2010–2020) would no longer be part of the band.
This night was quite the contrast from the previous night’s four heavy metal bands! They weren’t nearly as loud, but they definitely had an enthusiastic crowd! Don’t be fooled by the empty “VIP section” seats (said section seems to get larger every week, but still only about half-full), the crowd filled the Gwazi Park concert venue!