Live Show Review

The Boys are Back, The Boys are Sad: Waterparks in New York City

by Sofie Vasquez

The Houston, Texas trio left a lasting impression at The Marlin Room in Webster Hall, establishing themselves as an innovative, household name in the pop punk scene.

Waterparks turned heads when their debut album Double Dare dropped in November of last year.  Being placed in a genre such as pop punk that can sometimes be notorious for producing generic, standard music, Waterparks has created an album reminiscent of the early 2000s pop punk scene, infused with inventive styles and progressive influences that manage to maintain their own individual tone and spirit.  The success of their album skyrocketed Waterparks from a humble crowd at last year’s Vans Warped Tour to not only joining a successful tour with Sleeping with Sirens but headlining their first ever tour in the United States, as well as scoring a UK/US tour with All Time Low in the summer.

Their New York date was completely sold out.  By 11am, over fifty people were already lined up alongside Webster Hall, waiting impatiently in the horrid cold for the doors to open.  When they did, young kids – on average, a majority of the crowd were under fifteen – stormed inside, pushing viciously to the front.  Supported by the English band Creeper and co-headlining with Too Close to Touch, Waterparks took the stage.  The Marlin Room overflowed with fans constantly pushing forward to get as close as possible. Otto Wood of Waterparks sat by his drum set, waving at fans frantically trying to contain themselves as guitarist Geoff Wigington and lead vocalist/ guitarist Awsten Knight ran up on stage, opening with “Made in America” off Double Dare.  The track is layered with metal but also electronica style undertones, igniting a mosh pit and a sea of crowd surfers that continue endlessly throughout the night.  “Hawaii (Stay Awake)” followed next with Knight declaring everyone attempt to get on stage, and with no hesitation, as Waterparks performed their danceable, catchy track, a swarm of teenagers flung themselves forward to the front.  It was an overwhelming, chaotic scene only heightened by “Crave” – a song off their EP Cluster – that longtime fans go berserk for. The performance of “Crave,” however, is one of Waterpark’s strongest, highlighting not only Knight’s extension of his vocal range and showing off Wigington’s excellent co-vocals, but also how effortlessly and perfectly the upbeat synths and electronics display syncs with heavy rock elements.

Waterparks NYC webster hall
Photos by Sofie Vasquez

“Stupid for You” – the band’s most popular and well known track to date – was infectiously catchy.  No one in the audience missed a beat or lyric as they sung along, actually dancing and bopping their heads to Wood’s drum beat as some attempted to match Knight’s impressive falsetto.  The song is about being lovesick, and it’s a feeling everyone resonates with so passionately that the participation is awe-inspiring.  There is not one dull or still person at the show, especially during that song.  However, “Stupid for You” fails to do justice to Waterpark’s potential, unlike “Gloom Boys,” a song so charismatic and well-done that the live performance is actually sublime.

Knight really challenged his vocals during this song, seamlessly changing between falsettos, staccato singing, and aggressive vocals.  At times, he lowered his tone to a hushed, gentle one in the middle that is gradually built up to a tense, vicious chant of, “The boys are back/ the boys are sad,” alongside Wood’s beat and Wigington’s guitar that brought it to a climatic, satisfying finish.

The electrifying eclectic “Mad All the Time” was a visually stunning performance as the rotating, vibrant lights intensify the experience. You can’t help but be captivated by how Waterparks controled the stage. Geoff Wigington’s eyes focused on his hands as his fingers slid down the guitar’s neck, a sly smile on his lips. Otto Wood wore a cheeky grin as he smasheed his drumsticks against the cymbals.  Awsten Knight laughed as he launched himself onto the crowd, completely enthralled by the moment.

Waterparks nyc Webster hall
Photos by Sofie Vasquez

Transitioning from the energetic performance, Knight switched to his acoustic guitar as he said into the mic, “Sing as loud as you can.  The person this is about is standing right there.”  Knight smiled bashfully, glanced to his girlfriend on the side of the stage right before he played the intro to “21 Questions.”  Knight delivered a genuine and tender performance with his unplugged set, completely in the moment as he is accompanied by the audience chanting the chorus.  Wigington and Wood transitioned naturally back into the set, elevating Knight’s performance with their instruments building to a thrilling climax where the full band kicks back in.  The second Knight finished singing, his girlfriend runs straight towards him, pulling him into a kiss  – a heartwarming moment that leaves the crowd feeling touched and Knight blushing.

“I’m a Natural Blue” packed an exhilarating punch, and the crowd was chaotic. People were soaring, some were falling, and some were hauled away before they could even grasp the stage.  “I’m a Natural Blue” transitioned quickly to “Dizzy,” a track with infectious guitar melodies and prominent drums tied to Knight’s gloomy singing.  At the end of the night, Waterparks closed with “Royals,” one of the best songs off Double Dare.  The most appealing aspect of Waterparks is that their songwriting is self-aware, and that resonates with everyone who listens to them.  The audience was completely engaged; people were jumping onto the stage, singing alongside Knight in his microphone, and in that moment, you can’t shake off how happy you are that the band has come so far, and you know they’re only going upward from here.

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