Music Editor Ellie Harris attends her first gig in over a year, finding Waterparks an excellent reintroduction to live music with their upbeat and energetic show

Written by Ellie Harris
Published
Images by Ellie Harris

After a long year and a half without gigs, I was incredibly excited to get back into the swing of things – and who better to start with than Waterparks? The three strong outfit from Texas is one of my all-time favourite bands, and with a new album released earlier this year I was looking forward to hearing their new music live for the first time.

[…] the atmosphere was electric, reminding me exactly what I had missed about going to concerts but assuring that it was going to be well worth the wait

The show was an intimate one, with about 350 people in attendance at the O2 Institute. As a result, the atmosphere was electric, reminding me exactly what I had missed about going to concerts but assuring that it was going to be well worth the wait. Unusually, there were no opening acts, though this did not affect my enjoyment of the gig and instead placed the limelight squarely on the shoulders of Waterparks, who certainly rose to the occasion.

Bursting onto the stage with unending energy, frontman Awsten Knight never seemed to slow down, jumping across the stage with guitarist, Geoff Wigington. Kicking off with ‘Greatest Hits’, the title track of their latest album, the experience did somewhat feel like the ‘strangest dream of all,’ as the chaos of the evening ensued. The upbeat and fast-paced performance of ‘Numb’ got the crowd going, spurred on by the powerful backing of Otto Wood on the drums, whilst ‘Magnetic’ and ‘You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)’ proved to be fan favourites. Despite the tour’s purpose of promoting the new album, they also played a couple of older songs, such as ‘Stupid For You’ and ‘I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore,’ both of which I loved.

Knight’s quick lyricism was just as impressive live as it was on Greatest Hits (if not more so), with slower songs such as ‘Fruit Roll Ups’ and ‘Crying Over It All’ allowing him to demonstrate his vocal abilities. He maintained a strong rapport with the crowd throughout the gig, responding to hecklers with jokes and insisting he knew how to pronounce ‘Birmingham’ – spoiler alert: he did not. Wigington also entertained us to a few accomplished guitar solos, especially in ‘Gladiator,’ which is purely instrumental.

It was certainly a bizarre experience, but one that made the show completely unique

For me, the highlight of the night has to be the impromptu acoustic karaoke that occurred around halfway through the gig, derailing it for a good 10 minutes. Giving in to the crowd’s peer pressure, Knight agreed to play some older songs, as long as the fans provided the vocals. In this manner, we sang along to ‘Telephone,’ which infamously never gets played live, ‘21 Questions,’ ‘Group Chat’ and ‘Crave’. It was certainly a bizarre experience, but one that made the show completely unique.

Finishing with an encore and an extended performance of ‘See You In The Future,’ Waterparks certainly made an impression, creating a fitting introduction to their latest music. Promising to return shortly – and indeed they will be playing again in Birmingham next year – I could not have asked for a better first gig back after the long absence.


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