WRITTEN BY: Hannah Kay
Saying that a performer was “born to be on stage” is an easy compliment that gets tossed around entirely too often in the world of reviewing, but in the case of Waterparks frontman Awsten Knight, it is simply the most succinct way to describe the unbridled charisma the 27-year-old radiated during the Reading, Pennsylvania date of the Fandom Tour.
November 22nd saw a rather odd blend of pre-drunk bro-types, baby-faced teens accompanied by a parent to presumably one of their first shows, and just about anything that comes in between pack themselves into Reading’s nightclub-turned-still-nightclub-and-also-concert-venue, Reverb. Despite the seedy atmosphere and circle pits yet to come, the vibe in the venue read almost like that of a boyband concert – sandwiching fellow Texas native De’wayne Jackson’s electrifying opening set were crowd-led chants of “Waterparks,” and anything else that happened to catch their attention – most hilariously a security guard named Roscoe. When Knight delightedly discovered the first person he’d ever met to share a first name with his dad, he filmed the crowd cheering “Roscoe Knight!” to send to him.
Contrary to the boyband vibes was the evidence of where Waterparks had started and where they still remain in the scene – during every upbeat song there was a crowd surfer waiting to be caught by Roscoe & co., and particularly aggressive setlist selections like “Blonde,” “War Crimes,” and “Turbulent” saw circle pits open up beneath the stage.
Waterparks straddled the line between pop and punk on their 2019 release Fandom. Knight and his bandmates, guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood, relish in the niche they’ve carved out for themselves. Knight’s commanding stage presence rivals scene legends like Pete Wentz (a comparison he’s made before) and Mark Hoppus, but he plays with the crowd in a style all his own. Throughout the evening Knight made himself at home in a city he was only marginally sure how to pronounce, getting security to wear wigs mimicking his hair, doing a bit where he played the riff from “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for nearly three minutes straight (much to the admitted chagrin of the already targeted Wood), demanding the crowd “shut the f*** up,” so he could tell a story about booking his band a gig during Superbowl Sunday years ago, “sing happy birthday like it’s my birthday it’s not but I want you to anyway,” and, in perhaps the pinnacle of Knight’s blend of charmingly infectious arrogance, ask the crowd if they wanted to hear a song he wrote, and then do a full acoustic cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before transitioning seamlessly into a song he actually wrote, “Lucky People.”
Knight’s antics aside, Waterparks delivered an impressively long set, featuring two “new” tracks that say more about them as a band than this ever could – “Double Dare 2019” and “Entertainment 2019.” Prior to the release of the aforementioned Fandom and signing to Hopeless Records, Waterparks had released two LPs under Equal Vision Records – Double Dare (2016) and Entertainment (2018). Post-label change, Waterparks lost rights to both of those albums. So, they did what any artist would do: re-record songs from both albums and release them as a 7 minute and 9 minute re-mix/mashup of Entertainment and Double Dare, respectively, in a handful of days before embarking on tour. It’s a gutsy move, and exactly the kind of thing that makes them Waterparks.
Some might say a band is only as entertaining as their frontman – and to those people, you should go see a Waterparks show, because there really is nothing like it. Waterparks are a punk band fronted by a blossoming pop star, they’re loving every second of it.
- Cherry Red
- Watch What Happens Next
- Dream Boy
- Double Dare 2019
- High Definition
- War Crimes
- Easy to Hate
- Lucky People
- 21 Questions
- I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore
- Zone Out
- Entertainment 2019
- Stupid for You
Follow writer Hannah Kay on Twitter @deadgodspeed