Photo by Joelle Grace Taylor
Arriving at what I thought would be a chill indie concert, I was surprised when the moshing, crowd-surfing, and dancing began. The Walters, an indie-pop band from Chicago, kicked off their second show of 2023 at House of Blues in San Diego. After a long hiatus following a band breakup, The Walters are back, writing, and performing together. The band briefly spoke on what led to the break, attributing it to burnout and being overwhelmed by the music industry. Despite their four-year break, the band seemed very happy to be back performing together. Popularized by their song “I Love You So”—which blew up on TikTok in 2021 after the band had disbanded—The Walters quickly claimed their stake as a rising indie-pop group, signing with Warner Records.
Once The Walters opened with “I Haven’t Been True” from their first and only album Young Men (2015), the crowd immediately responded with enthusiasm, setting up the night for a great show. Feeding off the crowd’s energy, lead singer Luke Olson descends into a spirited performance of their popular song “Goodbye Baby”. Guitarist MJ Tirabassi, attempting to meet Olson’s energy, strummed along passionately, gifting us with his backup vocals. Other members— Walter Kosner, lead guitarist, Danny Well, bass, and Charlie Ekhaus, drums, seemed to keep up the music for Olson and Tirabassi who carried the performance. The set continued to progress into a large dance party with Olson performing funky dance moves for the crowd. Before the night was even halfway through, Olson had cemented himself as a performer with some of the best stage presence I’ve ever seen as he pranced around the stage and jumped off it to sing with fans at the barricade. A heartwarming moment occurred partway through the night when the band blessed the crowd with an extended version of their hit song “I Love You So”; before I could recognize the crowd suddenly filled with couples swaying and singing together.
Midway through the show, the band played another of their most popular songs, “Fancy Shoes”. What I certainly didn’t expect from one of their more mellow songs was the crowd surfing that started as the chorus began. I looked around to see a man crowd-surfing barefoot, waving his own shoes in the air. Other audience members followed suit; before the song was over, four people had crowd surfed. The crowd surfing turned into moshing as the band played their last song, Hunk Beach. Like “Fancy Shoes”, it was a little slow for moshing, but the audience’s enthusiastic (if a bit nonsensical) dancing was simply a celebration of the top-notch performance they’d just witnessed. Better together, I can only hope we will see more of The Walters in the coming years.