Live review: Waterparks, London O2 Academy Brixton

Fire, Flying Vs and FaceTime: Waterparks pull out all the stops at biggest headline show to date.

Live review: Waterparks, London O2 Academy Brixton
Emily Carter
Jawn Rocha

“Look at this shit!” gasps Awsten Knight, three songs in to Waterparks’ headline set tonight. “Look around! Look at the people up there! This shit is so crazy – bear with me, I’m gonna say that like 50,000 times tonight…”

The frontman might be in awe of the Texas trio’s grand surroundings this evening, but to the excitable crowd going wild at London’s prestigious O2 Academy Brixton, this just feels right. Just over six years on from their first-ever UK show – on the Kerrang! Fresh Blood stage at Slam Dunk Festival – Waterparks have worked their way up from promising pop-punk hopefuls to one of rock’s most exciting bands, so even if shit seems “crazy” to Awsten, it’s certainly not from this side of things.

Case in point is when the band drop recent single FUNERAL GREY early on. With heaps of pyro and one of the summer’s best sing-alongs, it shows just how far they’ve come from those early gigs. The likes of You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You) and Fuzzy sound monumental, backed by dazzling accompanying visuals, while the gloriously uplifting Telephone sends fans delirious, having recently been used in Netflix show Heartstopper.

If all Waterparks did was play, it’d still be a great show. But Awsten’s typically random and hilarious between-song chat elevates things further – from wondering if he peed in the same spot backstage as Harry Styles (the pop star played the venue himself recently), to introducing (and quite possibly embarrassing) various members of Team Waterparks by bringing them out onstage individually.

There’s also a very touching callback to Waterparks’ 2018 show across town at KOKO, in which Awsten proudly FaceTimed his parents from the stage. Tonight is clearly worthy of the same call.

“Oh my god, I hope she answers,” he jokes, tapping away on his screen. “If she doesn’t answer, we’ll call one of your moms instead…”

Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Knight are both available to chat.

“Yo!” Awsten exclaims, holding the phone up to his face before proudly panning round and showing off the size of the room and the screaming fans. “If you’re really quiet, you can hear my parents in their bathing suits,” he tells the crowd. “I don’t know if you heard that, but she said: ‘Hey London, what the fuck is up!’”

This is, well, entertainment in every sense, with the band really coming into their own. Away from the more light-hearted moments, when Awsten ditches the guitar for High Definition, the frontman’s expressive moves onstage add even more meaning to the emotional alt.pop single. Elsewhere, when he brings out the guitar – a badass looking Flying V – he taps away some rather metal-sounding solos, casually showing off his musical chops.

In short, tonight is the whole package. And as fire and CO2 canons erupt from the stage for rowdy closer Turbulent, it caps off a genuinely brilliant celebration of all things Waterparks.

Okay Awsten, you were right. Shit is indeed crazy.

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