Written By | Brad Reiter
Walk Off the Earth brought and eclectic and energetic indie-pop performance to a packed house at the Fillmore Theatre in Detroit on Wednesday night.
For those late to the party, Walk Off the Earth (or WOTE as their devoted tribe refer to them as) is a feel-good internet sensation gaining throngs of rabid followers through their innovative and often whacky YouTube videos covering a range of pop tunes often using a wide array of instruments from ukuleles to theremins mixed with looping samples. This cover of Somebody I Used to Know has over 100 million views on YouTube and counting!
The Canadian group has been able to translate their web success into a blossoming recording and touring career mixing these covers with clever and catchy original content.
Opening the show, appropriately enough, was another internet startup Gabriela Bee, who has gained notoriety as a member of the Eh Bee Family, a YouTube channel based on family focused skits that has gained 7 million followers across a variety of social media platforms. She played a stripped down acoustic set with band mates huddled tight on a small staircase mixing original content with some covers, not too dissimilar from WOTE utilizing unique instruments from a kazoo to a rubber chicken. For a young performer not yet 13, Gabriela had a good command of the stage, never lacking energy or looking out of place. She served as a greater primer for the main shot to follow.
Walk Off The Earth took the stage, opening with a popular original Fire in My Soul. One thing that was readily apparent from the audience was the amount of kids that had come to the show. Not just teens, but younger kids with their parents… and they were singing enthusiastically to every song!
Clearly never taking themselves too seriously, the entire performance was about high energy and having fun on stage. Sarah Blackwood might be thought of as the lead vocalist for the band, but more often than not it was a different bandmate taking centre stage including bassists Gianni “Luminati” Nicassio, guitarist Ryan Marshall and even drummer Joel Cassady.
One notable absence from the performance was pianist and horn player Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor who passed away suddenly in January. The band has kept their friend and partner in their thoughts and through their music with a heartfealt tribute to his life in a a new song called Mike’s Song.
Overall, the set passed seamlessly though several more covers including Teenage Dirtbag, Hey Ya and a medley at the percussion table that included a bunch of fan favourites. It is nearly impossible to place this band in a sonic category be-it ska, reggae, punk, pop or rock. They find creative inspiration in various instruments and aren’t afraid to take chances, charting their own unique path. Through this they’ve been rewarded critically through a JUNO Award as Canadian Band of the Year and through scores of loyal fans who appreciate their schtick. It was refreshing to see a performance so far removed from the cookie cutter pop that seems to dominate the airwaves be so embraced by fans, both young and old.
Photo Credit: Brad Reiter