There’s a growing trend these days of bands or artists being discovered on Youtube. Gone are the days of taking demo tapes around, hoping to land that deal. Now, its as simple as uploading a video on the interwebs and taking it from there. But with 100 hours of video being loaded on the website every minute, most people get lost in the masses and never find their big break.
That’s where a bit of creativity comes in.
In early 2012, five Canadian musicians huddled around a single guitar to cover Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” with very positive results. It was then that Walk Off The Earth, made up of Gianni Luminati, Sarah Blackwood, Ryan Marshall, Joel Cassady, and Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor, became viral hits, gaining 127 million views in 4 months. Since then, their career has been skyrocketing at an exponential pace. While they still remain popular for their videos, which usually contain the utilization of unorthodox instruments and looping, the band managed to sign to a major label and release their studio album, R.E.V.O., in March of 2013.
Touring through America, the band found one of their final shows here in San Diego at the House of Blues. Opening with two of their original songs, “Speeches” and “REVO,” it was apparent very quickly that this wouldn’t be a typical show. With Luminati, Blackwood, and Marshall sharing vocal duties, as well as switching instruments sometimes more than once in a single song, the band worked like a well oiled machine. Playing a wide range of instruments, from guitars to horns and even a toothbrush, the band really showed their skills with anything that could make noise.
With only one album and a few original songs under their belt, it was obvious going into the show that they would be covering quite a few songs throughout the night. However, staying true to their style, the covers never really felt like covers but rather rehashed and released versions of themselves. From B.o.B.’s hit “Magic” and Rihanna’s “Man Down” each song meshes their instrumentalism, unique vocalizations, and theatrics to create nearly unrecognizable creations that flow together nicely with their original songs. My personal favorite cover was the ukulele driven “Natalie” from Bruno Mars, which found “Beard Guy” providing a background ambience via an electric toothbrush.
The most impressive, and important, part of the entire set was the use of the band’s crew, as they would join the band on stage to play songs, lend their vocals or catch the variety of instruments being thrown through the air. Many a time would a guitar or a ukulele be tossed 15 feet in the air only for a crew member to step out from backstage to catch it. The timing of each member throwing, catching, and being in the right spot was so spot on that it could make a Broadway choreographer blush.
The encore found the band huddled around a single guitar to perform the cover that made them famous. The energy of the night culminated to their last song, “Summervibes,” where the crew and fans were brought out on the stage to sing and dance along to one of the band’s most upbeat songs. Confetti rained, and at that point, it was just a giant party throughout the venue.
While the band used creativity to gain attention, I was impressed with their ability to carry that over to their live shows. The heavy use of props, from confetti machines, instruments covered in sequinz, and giant balloons, nothing ever seemed like a gimmick. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and needless to say, they exceeded any and all expectations I had.
Lauren Wilson | San Diego Ambassador | @Twitter | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC