Walk Off the Earth rocks Mr. Smalls

Written By Emily Bastaroli

The night before Halloween, fake spider webs covered mic stands, a drum set, a keyboard and other areas of the stage at Mr. Small’s Theatre in Millvale.  The fog machine created a hazy look against the blue, red and pink lights flashing throughout the venue. An anxious audience awaited performances by Walk Off the Earth, Julia Nunes and The Mowgli’s.The Mowgli’s, “the quintessential California band” according to their Facebook page, and YouTube sensation Julia Nunes opened the show. The Mowgli’s were up first, and filled the stage with all eight members: Michael Vincze, Colin Louis Dieden, Katie Jayne Earl, Matthew Di Panni, Josh Hogan, Dave Appelbaum, Spencer Trent and Andy Warren. Their look was very California-esque. Earl wore a flower in her hair and a floral kimono, Trent had his long hair in two braids, and Vincze resembled more of an ‘80s hair band, with his long, curly blond hair, black shirt and vest.But their looks hardly distracted from the music they played. Their sound was reminiscent of Grouplove and Fleetwood Mac. While they only played four or five songs, including “The Great Divide,” “Hi Hey There Hello,” “Slowly, Slowly,” and “San Francisco,” each one seemed to have its own genre, ranging from rock ‘n roll, indie-folk to country. During and in between the songs, each band member chose a different instrument to play, and took time to talk to the audience.Right before they played “Leave It Up to me,” an up-tempo rock song, Michael picked up something off the stage, wrapped in a velvet blanket. He took out a large owl figurine, that they called the Love Owl and passed it around the audience. They pulled a member from the audience and asked him what love is. He shouted, “Love is the answer.” They sang the song, and brought out Julia Nunes to sing their newest single “San Francisco.” They sang one last song, dancing around the stage, before thanking the audience and leaving the stage.After the set was changed to accommodate the next performer, Julia Nunes arrived on stage with her guitarist Nat Osborn. Nunes, a young, quirky girl, made goofy faces and remarks throughout her set, keeping the audience laughing and entertained. She played the ukulele with expert precision, and her voice sounded like a twangier version of Adele. Nunes and Osborn both beat-boxed during the songs, instead of using percussion to carry the beat. After about the second song, she said “I am super good at beat boxing,” and went on to tell a story how she got herself into a rap battle with a guy in a hardcore band.Nunes then said it was “piano time” and Osborn hopped on the keyboard to play a mash-up of pop songs including, “Last Friday Night,” “We Are Young,” “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful,” and “Call Me Maybe.” She thanked the audience and jokingly said, “That song and this next song are my most serious songs of the set.” She then sang a song about pizza burning her mouth, as well as “Stay Away,” a song about insomnia, concluding with “Nothing’s That Great.” Upon finishing, she smiled, waved goodbye, and said, “Thank you! Come see me and give me sweaty hugs.”The start of Walk Off the Earth’s set was marked by The Care Bears theme song playing. As fog filled the stage, lights came up and each band member danced on stage, dressed in Care Bear costumes. The audience cheered and laughed as the band members grabbed their instruments and microphones to play their opening song, and their entire show with unending enthusiasm.After arriving on stage in their unconventional performance attire, Sarah Blackwood and Giani Luminati took turns pounding on the same drum center stage. Blackwood, a tiny blonde woman jumped and danced on stage as she belted out the songs with the rest of the band.A blast of confetti shot into the crowd from stage left during the first song. Walk Off the Earth played their first four songs without stopping, only pausing for a second to change instruments. Though the band consists of five members: Blackwood, Luminati, Ryan Marshall, Mike Taylor and Joel Cassady, there was an additional drummer and crew member to help pass around flying guitars.The band danced around on stage, and some parts of “Red Hands” seemed to be choreographed. Walk Off the Earth played a mix of old and new songs including, “Gang of Rhythm,” “100 Proof Life,” and “Money Tree” as well as a few covers including B.o.B.’s “Magic,” Fun.’s “Some Nights” with Julia Nunes and the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Like The Mowgli’s, their set was an assortment of rock, reggae, pop and country, and they encouraged the audience to sing and dance along.