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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Review: Walk Off the Earth brings high-energy theatrics to Sandpoint stage

UPDATED: Sat., Aug. 3, 2019, 4:22 p.m.

Walk Off the Earth headlined the Festival at Sandpoint on Friday. (Andrea Hunter)
Walk Off the Earth headlined the Festival at Sandpoint on Friday. (Andrea Hunter)

Walk Off the Earth brought the same high-energy fun to the stage Friday at the Festival at Sandpoint as fans have come to know from their videos.

Ukuleles and guitars were tossed. Kazoos were played. And for one song, all the band members played on one instrument.

But before all that, the Shook Twins opened the evening at War Memorial Field. The Sandpoint natives played up the twin part of their act with coordinating outfits and even some matching dance steps in their first song, “Awhile.”

During their 45-minute set – which included songs like “Time to Swim,” “Mad Scientist,” “Stay Wild” and a cover of the Cranberries’ “Dreams” – Laurie and Katelyn Shook were obviously happy to be on their home stage. One of them (I think it was Katelyn, but, sorry, they’re identical twins) even announced her engagement, with her fiancé adorably standing up in the crowd on the lawn and waving his arms like a champion.

When it was time for Walk Off the Earth to take the stage, the band used one of its signatures – a silly video. In a green room skit, three of the band members realized that they were in the green room at the wrong venue. Cut to a high-speed race through a city, with police chasing, and the group makes it, arriving onstage to thunderous applause.

The band – Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Nicassio, Ryan Marshall and Joel Cassady – started the evening with WOTE originals “Fifth Avenue” and “ Corner of Queen,” followed up by their cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”

That mix of originals and covers continued throughout the night, all of it accompanied by the choreographed lights, video, smoke and other fun stagecraft that you would expect from a band that rose to fame based on its viral videos.

Speaking of viral videos, the band played “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Though now, instead of five people on one guitar as in their original cover, it was four people on plastic tubes and drums in a catchy medley that also included snippets of “Stand By Me,” “Come on Eileen,” “Closer,” “Royals” and “Shape of You.” (When Walk Off the Earth was at the Knitting Factory in Spokane in 2014, the group did play “Somebody That I Used to Know” on one giant guitar.)

After the song “Taekwondo,” which has Nicassio promising to do anything and everything for Blackwood, she asked, “Do you think you could taekwondo the bugs away? One just flew into my mouth.” To which one of the men quipped, “Protein!”

The evening included tributes to former bandmate Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor, who died in December. The first was “Mike’s Song,” which the band wrote after his death. It brought the cellphone lights out in the crowd. Later in the evening, the band left the stage for a video of Taylor and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with his empty keyboard in the spotlight. The band joined in with the video for the final verse.

In a lighter moment, Blackwood jumped off the stage on the lawn, joking about how people were eating salad up in front, and the dance floor was pushed off to the side. She got the crowd up on its feet (“So we can show the world Sandpoint does not sit down in concerts”), and people stayed on their feet for most of the concert.

The whole-band(-mostly)-on-one-instrument moment came with the cover of Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You.” All four were playing a guitar-harp-ukulele hybrid, with Cassady using the body of the instrument as a drum. That was followed by WOTE original “Red Hands” and another medley of covers, including “No Brainer,” “Roar” and “Rich Girl.”

Walk Off the Earth closed out the set with a rousing “Sing It All Away.”

After a couple of minutes, they came back for an encore with “Gang of Rhythm,” with the crowd helping out on the “who-ha” and arm motions. They closed out the evening with “Hold On” and “Rule the World.” And a lot of the crowd was feeling high as a bird as the concert faded to black.

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