Waterparks Are Everything Good About Pop-Punk

Waterparks Are Everything Good About Pop-Punk
Photo by Cory Garcia
The Secret Group
February 10, 2017

When you’re a teen, there’s magic in the combination of heartfelt lyrics with smart-aleck wit, largely because being a teen means thinking everything is somehow the most important thing in the world or a complete joke. It’s a particular type of alchemy that made me fall in love with Blink 182 when I was a teen and I suspect plays a large part in why Waterparks will be playing to sold-out crowds in Chicago, Philly, Atlanta and New York over the next few weeks.

But before those crowds, there was the sold-out crowd here in Houston, their hometown and the second stop on their first headlining tour. The time they spent on the Warped Tour and opening for Sleeping With Sirens has paid off, because they feel like naturals onstage. The songs are tight, and front man Awsten Knight is engaging without ever feeling like he’s trying too hard; his charm feels like it’ll scale well if the band moves up to bigger rooms over time.

Before the doors opened, it felt as if every last person with a ticket was waiting outside, fans and parents of fans alike. There was a palpable sense of excitement before the show, and once the band hit the stage, the crowd was super-into things, never letting the band down when given the chance to sing out loud. Even during the banter they were chatty in the good way, trying to get the band’s attention rather than whatever it is that Houston crowds normally talk about between songs.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Photo by Cory Garcia
Yeah, I know, I’m romanticizing youth a bit here, but when I listen to Waterparks, I’m reminded of everything that I loved about pop-punk when I was that age. Double Dare is not a “cool” record because in a world where rock music isn’t hip, pop-punk gets even less respect, but it’s an effortlessly good record full of songs that are catchy and hit some real solid emotional beats if you go along with it. Waterparks delivers those songs very well live, be it the acoustic buildup and tension release of “21 Questions” or the big-league-sounding chorus in “Royal.”

Yeah, I know that selling out the room at The Secret Group doesn’t sound as cool as selling out upstairs at Fitz used to, but I’m still happy that people are paying attention to a band that deserves more love. That they’re already rising to the occasion just makes things even better. Pop-punk isn’t “hip," but as long as The Warped Tour still goes out every summer, Alternative Press keeps the lights on and bands like Waterparks keep releasing stellar albums, everything is going to be all right. Unless it isn’t. You remember how it was to be a teen, right?

Personal Bias: A while back, I left a show at Revention early to beat the crowds. Two of the guys from Waterparks were outside the venue passing out flyers for an upcoming show, and I had a really nice, brief interaction with them on account of having written a little bit about them at the time. I’m really happy at the band they’re becoming.

The Crowd: Still young enough that when the band mentioned they’d be signing autographs after the show, a whole bunch of the audience skipped watching the end of the show from the floor so they could listen from the merch booth while waiting to get those signatures.

Random Notebook Dump: This was my first time catching a show over at The Secret Group, but I really dug what they’ve got there. Good sightlines, good sound, plenty of parking in the neighborhood. Hope more bands I dig give it a shot.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia