To the absolute joy of their legions of fans, Houston trio Waterparks travelled into Sydney for their first ever headline show in the country. Supported by Melbourne punks Stuck Out and Sydney’s own Arborview, the show was quick to sell out- especially considering the age restriction recently placed on the Sydney leg of Good Things Festival. Alongside an army of excitable Waterparks stans, I cramped myself into a tiny Factory Floor and awaited the show to come.
Despite some minor issues with getting into the venue of time, I managed to catch the back end of the opening set. I’ll be the first to admit that Arborview aren’t my thing, but while their brand of cheesy pop-punk can come across as basic and uninspired, they play their songs undeniably well.
With buckets of confidence, they perform the role of a support band excellently, doing their part to hype up a crowd that needed little exciting. Pushing through a set that had a bit of everything, including a cover of Ednaswap’s “Torn” the four-piece sent a warm buzz through the venue’s stuffy air.
Not a band to let the energy die, heavy-hitters Stuck Out took to the stage. As their angst-driven melodies blew through the tiny room it became abundantly clear that the majority of the crowd were only seeing the five-piece for the first time. It was clearer however, that they all really seemed to be into it.
Blasting through a set including the entirety of their recently released EP, You Won’t Come Home, and deep cuts from their previous releases, the room had only begun to heat up. As the set continued and the crowd came out of their shell, it was a singalong in “Empty Sheets” that alluded to the idea that the crowd might not have been as unfamiliar with the band as they let on.
As quickly as Stuck Out left the stage, at atmosphere thick with anticipation filled the room. Without fail, the crowd screamed every time a song finished playing over the speakers, hoping their pleas would summon their beloved band. It’s a genuine miracle that crowd had voices left as the group took the stage, considering they’d spend the last five minutes straining their vocal cords.
Led by frontman Awsten Knight, the band flew straight into “Blonde”, and it took little more than a couple seconds for me to realise this show was going to be everything that I anticipated. The crowd pushed and scuffled their way to the front, screaming every lyric back into the faces of a band that they loved.
After initially sounding slightly scratchy, the band quickly warmed into the set, almost as if their first song was just a warm up for what was to come. Continuing through songs off their recently released LP Entertainment and debut Double Dare, the energy in the room was unrelenting. Punters barely kept their feet on the floor as the band barely stopped for breath in between tracks.
The dedicated followers knew every syllable of every lyric, from the emotional clangers to the angsty robotic intro of “Tantrum”. Any exhaustion the band were suffering as a consequence of the jet-lag that a flight across the world can induce was virtually diminished in front of a crowd who were incredibly happy to be there. As the band cheekily participated with heckling members of the crowd it was clear to see the love that Waterparks have for their fans.
Temporarily breaking into a frenzied circle pit during crowd favourite “Sleep Alone”, the intensity of the show failed to waver. As the set progressed, the band called for crowd surfers during “Royal” and despite a shaky start members of the audience eagerly took their chances to clamber their way closer to the group. With no barrier in between the band and their fans, Knight was the first to reach out and help pull surfers to safety.
Only when the band slowed the set down for a delightful singalong of heart warmers “Lucky People” and “21 Questions” did the crowd settle, even if just slightly. Fans wrapped their arms around each other while others slow danced with others and for a short while the entire room seemed to be at peace.
If I thought the intensity was high before, the set’s closing tracks really brought out a different side to the band’s fans. As the set finished with the triple threat of “Tantrum”, “Not Warriors” (the undisputed BEST Waterparks song) and “Stupid For You”, everything went to the next level. The number of crowd surfers must have quadrupled, the screams only got louder and I swear the room began to shake.
I am fully aware of the pre-existing notions people have of Waterparks and their fans, but they are not a band to be missed. Their live show is ridiculously tight, while the stage presence of all three band members only adds another layer to the dynamic performance they bring to their fans. If you’re going to Good Things this weekend, try and take the time to catch the band, even briefly. You won’t regret it.
[Photos by Ivan Souriyavong]