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Author Topic: Walking off the Earth  (Read 2806 times)
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« on: February 12, 2014, 01:48:28 PM »

So a couple of years ago, Starman and I were discussing Epiphone guitars on the "six strings" thread. Bob "BurtDirken" interjected with a video link, "How many guitarists does it take to play one Epiphone?"

Thanks so much for posting it, Bob! As it turns out, it's a group that call themselves "Walk off the Earth". I've been following the group online ever since and have become a huge fan! They were a very obscure group when they posted that video. But viewership of the video blew up, and since then, their popularity has exploded! Last week, I finally had a chance to attend one of their live shows! They were amazing! Their music is multi-genre that includes Rock, Folk, Reggae, Bluegrass, you name it, it's there! And their energy level is over the top!

The line up of the band is:

Gianni "Luminatti"

Sarah Blackwood

Joel Cassady


Taylor "Beard Guy"

It's impractical to list instruments because they all sing and play multiple instruments throughout the show. During an online Q&A session, a fan asked Sarah how many instruments she plays. Her response was "oh I don't know, ten or twelve, but none extremely well". You're being modest, Sarah. All the instruments I've seen you play, seems to me you've mastered. Their long time crew members who have been with them since the beginning, including Sarah's brother, Ian, are also musicians and join them onstage to help fill out the instrumentation.

The show is a true spectacle for both the eyes and ears (is spectacle appropriate for ears?…anyway). The energy level is high throughout the show, even in the acoustic numbers as they're constantly encouraging the audience along. They toss instruments back and forth to each other throughout the show. At one point, Taylor's playing trumpet when he suddenly tosses it across the stage to Joel, who continues playing it (is that hygienic?).

At another point, Sarah's playing a Mandolin. She tosses it to another band member (sorry, I was focused on her), picks up a Ukelele, straps it on but turns it to her back, catches an acoustic guitar, plays it a few measures, tosses it, then turns the ukelele around and plays it, all in the same song….and while singing! If you look at the M&G picture below, you'll see Sarah's a tiny little thing. Those of you who have met me know I'm a rather short man (Moscapoet has taken to calling me a hobbit….Rock 'n' Roll hobbit? Hmmm). I'm hunched over, and I still have a couple or three inches on her! But as we all know too well on here, some of these diminutive chicks pack the explosive energy of dynamite! Sarah's another example! On one of their "heavier" songs, she plays a Fender Telecaster. In the high point of the song, she stands up on two floor monitors, a foot on each, and holds up the guitar like the quintessential rock goddess! Way cuter than Bruce Springsteen though. Sorry Bruce. I was afraid she was going to fall. You can't get solid footing the way those monitors are shaped, trust me! The only oops I saw was at one point Sarah tossed a microphone to Gianni and he dropped it. There was a collective "awww" from the audience. It's probably no accident they use Shure SM58s onstage (Shure guarantees these mics will survive a six foot drop).

To get a taste of the live performance, check out this clip of a show in Canada that kicked off the tour. A notice for the "anti" rockers on here: Don't think from the first few seconds that you're watching a Heavy Metal video. You're not! It's just an example of WOTE's onstage antics. Give it a few seconds and they morph to an acoustic song.

The venue was The House of Blues, which is basically a very large bar. My critique of the sound quality was that overall, the mix sounded very Midrange heavy. It didn't seem to bother anyone else. In fact, I saw one of my colleagues from the film department there. I mentioned it to him, and he said he was glad he wasn't an audio guy. He thought it would've diminished his experience had he been. Sarah's mic needed to come up slightly in the mix and the overall mix needed to come down slightly. They were really pushing the system too hard resulting in it "squashing" the sound to a point. But even with these nit picky negatives, the show was extremely enjoyable.

The show was a steal considering what you're getting at $22 for a regular ticket. A M&G pass was $100, which is what I got. My feelings are mixed on that. I'm glad I did it, but I don't think I'll do it again. I think Live Nation really tried to make this enjoyable for everyone. But there were issues. There were two bands opening for WOTE. They were very low energy in contrast. At one point during the performance of one of these, I walked out on the venue patio. I engaged in dialog with some younger patrons there and they referred to that genre as "Post Rock". I informed them this was nothing new, but back in my day we called it "New Wave". They performed well enough, but the lack of energy was about to put this old rocker to sleep. But that's just me. Here was the real problem: With these two other bands, WOTE was scheduled to play from 10:00 to 11:30. The M&G was to take place after. However, we had to show up for VIP check-in and enter the venue at 6:00! There was no seating! I thought "OK, I'll just hit the bar until WOTE comes on". There were no bar stools! I was facing being on my feet for six hours plus! It made me think of Mr. Peabody's Lindsey Stirling experience! Yes, we're getting too old for that sort of thing.

Also the M&G itself was somewhat rushed as there were something like 50 plus people for that. I was near the back (as is customary for us). When it was my turn, the meeting was very brief. A word about Taylor, when their breakout video blew up, commenters dubbed him the "Beard Guy" and he took that on as a persona of mysticism, never speaking, always stoic, and somewhat scary. But when I met him, he was actually the most personable and friendly of them all! I told them how much I admired them and hold them up as an example to my students as what can happen to you if you work really hard. They showed sincere gratitude for that, but all too soon, Sarah said "you wanna take a picture with us?". She said it in her perky, engaging way, but I took the hint. It was time to move on. I understood. It was getting late, and they had a show in Ft. Lauderdale the following night. They needed to hit the road.

Having said all that, there was a heart warming moment. Further up the line, I noticed a preteen-early teen girl with Down Syndrome. Apparently, her  parents had bought a M&G just for her as they stood off to the side while she went through the line. WOTE spent extra time with her and showered her with attention. We all have stories of CW doing that and it never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Bravo WOTE!

To sum up, by all means, if this group comes to your area, get a ticket and go! You'll have a great time! But do it quick! They do sell out! Moscapoet was looking at going to their show in Denver but they had sold out. One word of advice as per the review, buy the regular show ticket for a mere twenty something dollars and show up slightly before WOTE's down beat time. Skip the M&G. That's what I'll do next time. That is, of course, unless you really have your heart set on meeting them, in which case prepare yourself for long night of standing.

For a glimpse of their personalties and a look "behind the scenes", check out this clip. If you want to see the finished product, there's a link on the upper lefthand corner of the screen.

I really need to come up with something new. I'm getting too old for this "rocker" pose to have the effect it used to. Then again, do any of you '80s guys remember Ronnie James Dio?

« Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 03:22:06 PM by Ron » Logged

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 02:28:20 PM »

Very glad you had a great time. They are quite a group and at some point I do hope to see them. Fun photo!

An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
A Sprite so Complete
Posts: 210

« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 04:52:12 PM »

Hey, Ron, I need to come around here more often.  Seems, like many others, my attention has drifted more toward FB.  I, too, have been wanting to attend one of their shows; though, undoubtedly, I'll be the oldest person in the audience.  Smiley  But then, I don't care, if they don't.  Not sure I can still handle that much energy for that long, though.  Seems Rock has left my bones, as my bones have turned to rock.  Acoustic performance is much more appealing these days.

Great review; and I'm happy that you had the chance to see them live.  I'm still waiting for them to show up in my neighborhood, but won't miss the opportunity when they do.

Life may be "what you make it"; but the "building materials" consist of all of humanity.
Total Mairead Fanatic!
Posts: 1133

« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 07:54:30 PM »

Ahhh, you'd enjoy it, Bob! Most of their stuff is actually acoustic, but they still manage to keep the energy level high!

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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