There was a YouTube video that went viral early this year with 5 people playing one single guitar covering a major hit of this year. If you haven’t heard Gotye’s song you probably live in a cave or arrived from the moon. The song is Somebody That I Used To Know and the guys taking their own spin on the song are none other than the Canadian-based, multi-instrumentalists of Walk Off The Earth. They have released two records in 2007 and 2010 but their breakthrough came with their YouTube successes; covers of songs from the likes of Adele, Rihanna, Eminem, The Beatles and so on.
Date: August 30, 2012. Location: Vienna, Austria. Venue: Arena. The former slaughterhouse which consists of several bigger and smaller brick buildings and an open air stage is the venue of youth and alternative culture and houses concerts of all genres. WOTE is 4 days into their Walk Off The World European tour. The show itself was sold out long before the event so it was much anticipated by the Austrian fan base. Vienna was as east as the band would tour this year, so it was a real treat for WOTE fans. (It is rather telling why a band of such popularity won’t come to Hungary to promote their albums…)
The American “campfire after-party with a jungle-rave vibe” duo, USS, were the opening act of the night. The crowd was in a rather elevated mood, but not impatient, so USS had a pretty easy job at getting the party started. The two members could turn the packed venue into a dance floor in a matter of seconds with their electronic, loop-pedal based music which was complemented with the singer playing an acoustic guitar and singing. But they did not steal the show, the audience was eager to see the YouTube Stars. About 2 songs into their set I squeezed myself through the crowd and watched the show from beside the monitor desk on the left of the stage.
WOTE’s show was one euphoric celebration. Their on-stage performance was no different from the video versions. They showcased their multi-talentedness and even multi-tasking abilities. Guitars, ukuleles, bass guitars were thrown and caught, positions changed yet it didn’t feel like it was a rehearsed-to-boredom routine that they pull off every night. Instead, it was a very dynamic and lively show to which these stunts contributed as a thrilling factor.
Another, rather unconventional thing was that the crew members would join the show, sometimes filling in with an acoustic guitar, or clapping, or dancing while rushing from one band member to the other to hand over the given instrument. The set consisted of their well-known covers and original songs. It didn’t seem to matter though, because the crowd was enthusiastic about the original WOTE tracks too. Of course, I was most interested to see how they would play Somebody That I Used To Know live, because I had my doubts of the recording being genuine and on the spot when I watched it on YouTube. But the Canadians did not disappoint. The peak of the concert was this song, and the crowd looked like one big pool of iPhone and cells recording the act.
Soon it was time to get the crowd swimming in balloons! The song was Summer Vibe and the place resembled one big playground, celebrating music and summer. The band played an extra of 2-3 songs as encore and wrapped up their set.
All in all, it was great to witness such a creative band do such an energetic show, and yet see how really humble and kind people they are – just happy to travel and share their music.
Now let’s wait and see whether us Hungarians will need to go abroad for a treat like that next time the band is on tour…