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Walk, Spin, Toss and Bounce Off the Earth

photo by Erin Blackwood & Shawn Van Daele

I didn’t know much about Walk Off The Earth before heading to their show at the Vogue. Not even that they were Canadian, in fact.  What I did know, and what many people probably know whether they know it or not, is that these Torontonians are a complete YouTube sensation. They really broke out when they released a video with all five members playing Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” on one guitar.  Now do you know who they are?  I thought so.

Since the video exploded, getting props from both Gotye and collaborator on the song, Kimbra, it flooded everybody’s Facebook news feed and currently has almost 140 million views. One of the coolest parts about this Cinderella story is that they did it all themselves, without the backing of a label. (They have since signed with Columbia Records.)

The band has countless musically delicious cover videos on their YouTube channel, some popular music and some oldies like “Some Nights” by fun. and “Les Champs-Élysées” (filmed in Paris, France). As their fan base grew, so did the budget for their music videos. All of a sudden, there was a budget. It wasn’t just five talented musicians in front of a tripod anymore. They’ve released a few that make film and music geeks alike drool, like “Little Boxes” in which they use boxes as instruments. Their newest video for “Red Hands” is a single take, ramped at different speeds, jumping back and forth as if it is cut. See what I mean here. To truly appreciate the video, you can watch how they filmed it in order to capture the effect.

Someone in the group has made a lot of smart business decisions, and all the multi-instrument playing members are talented musicians; I wondered how all these layers would translate in a live performance.

Sparkling dust blasted from the tops of a drum, ukuleles flew through the air, were caught and played in one swift motion, and choreographed spins and head banging ensued. They only thing that could have made this live performance more visually stimulating would have been a perky blonde bouncing around the stage with no pants on. Oh no, wait – they had that too.

Their exploding energy was infectious and by the end of the show, they had practically everyone in the mellow Vogue Theatre on their feet and singing back-up. There is no denying that all of the members of Walk Off the Earth are multi-dimensional musicians and great performers, however I was pretty underwhelmed by their original content. Except for a couple, “Red Hands” and their feel-good song “Summer Vibes”, everything else just kind of mushed together in a bubblegum rock blender. I was a bit confused. It seems as though they haven’t quite found the right way to hone their talent yet, except in the form of some dynamic covers and creative videos. For now, I’ll stick to YouTube and wait until they find a sound that’s more grounded in their talent and not in their choreography.