The band's first show in a year felt like just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they have coming up.
Photos: Jawn Rocha
Well, here we are.
The first Waterparks show in just over a year, and so much has changed since we last saw Awsten, Geoff and Otto on stage together. We’re now in a completely new era, with a meticulously beautiful new hair colour to boot, and we’re on the verge of an entirely new record in the form of ‘Greatest Hits’ dropping too. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the unfiltered and brilliantly fun atmosphere that comes with seeing Waterparks live, and even if we’re not all allowed to be in the same place, the trio sure are going to make sure it still feels like home.
These unique circumstances have allowed one thing and that's for the band to play on a stage that they have crafted to otherworldly perfection. Like a scene pulled straight out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, trees and bushes dangle and blossom from the walls like an ever-shifting forest, slowly but surely engulfing everything before it. Then as a radiant red light shines off every leaf and the band kick into the ethereal ‘Cherry Red’, the surroundings make every shimmering note feel all the more magical. As those lights change to deep orange, bold purple and warm yellow as ‘WATCH WHAT HAPPENS NEXT’ springs to life and Awsten presses his face into the camera, it’s clear we are in for a proper treat. But why exactly is there a bike stuck in those branches?
“You at home, get up. I can see you,” Awsten chuckles before the sugary sweet ‘Dream Boy’ kicks in, and there's no option but to obey and bounce before a long-requested appearance of ‘Telephone’ makes us all feel gooey-eyed. Where the between-song banter would usually take place between the crowd and Awsten, the spontaneity for cheeky conversation comes instead from the people around him. One minute he's asking the seven people in the room and behind the cameras to clap at the end of songs and making Otto giggle several times from behind his drum kit. The next, he's showing off how he went so hard he broke the tone knob on his guitar or explaining that his in-ear is stuck and that he needs assistance. There's real comfort in the raw nature of this whole performance and that shared understanding that things may be different but we can all still share in the chaotic fun together. There’s nowhere to hide and everything is in full view, just like at a real warts-and-all gig.
There’s also some time to hear some “new shit”, too. That comes in the form of ‘Numb’, a frantic and furious slab of pop-rock brilliance that feels like the perfect summation of everything Waterparks has been in the past and will be in the future in a swift 3 minutes of glitter-drenched battery. It’s not the only trick the band has up their sleeve as they pull out a massive performance of ‘Cluster’ track and long time banger ‘Mad All The Time’ too, juxtaposing the old with the new perfectly Then there's a bit of acoustic loveliness with ‘I Miss Having Sex, But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore’, which includes a special shout out to TikTok, ‘Lucky People’, played under a gorgeous purple glow, and ’21 Questions’, which sounds all the more vulnerable without a colossal sing-along to back it up. The ebb and flow of this varied and visceral setlist serve as not just a testament to the band's knack for controlling an audience, even without one in front of them, but also for the number of huge songs they now have at their disposal.
The big moments don’t stop coming with ‘Not Warriors’ still as lovely and luscious as when it was first released, ‘Stupid For You’ cementing itself more and more as a modern classic and the callous crescendo of ‘Turbulent’ continuing to make the blood boil with each swirling drop. Though it’s with the curtain closing playthrough of ‘Snow Globe’, getting its live debut alongside the vulnerable 'Lowkey As Hell', that the band show just how far they have travelled in the past few years. This richly textured opus, overflowing with layer upon layer of striking sound and bubbling atmosphere, is the perfect embodiment of why everything Waterparks are doing right now is so exciting. There’s an energy pulsing through Awsten, Geoff and Otto right now, and it is impossible to ignore. The sheer joy they're getting from playing these songs in this whimsical environment and doing so with such vigour is a privilege and a pleasure to watch. And with 'Greatest Hits' in their back pocket, it also feels just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they have in store for us over the coming months.
Yet, most exciting of all, imagine what it’s going to be like when we’re all allowed to do this in the same room together again.
The countdown is on.
You can still watch the 'Anti-Tour' Performance by picking up a ticket from right HERE
Waterparks are also on the cover of Rock Sound this month. Pick up a copy and some exclusive merch from HERE