Event Review: Waterparks // The Fonda 6.13.23
Back in April, at the beginning of the Intellectual Property tour cycle, Waterparks hosted a series of in-store signings, the first of which was in Long Beach. As I went up to say hello to the band, frontman Awsten Knight thanked me for “making the drive and being here”, which I thought was a bit odd, since I’m a Southern California local… However, for many Waterparks fans, the travel was something that should actually be recognized. Dozens of fans roadtripped and took flights (both domestic and international) to see the Houston band as many as 15 times on the Property tour. And for good reason! I had the opportunity to cover the first LA night of the Property tour at The Fonda, and as a Parx veteran, I can confirm that this tour is Waterparks at their very best.
With a The 1975-esque housed stage setup, breathtaking visuals by Jawn Rocha and Erik Rojas, and incredible work from their lighting and audio technicians, Waterparks was able to showcase their stage presence and extensive discography in a way that will stick with the audience for a very long time. Let’s paint the scene. At 7 pm, fans rush into the venue eager for a chance to get as close as possible to the stage. At 8 pm, first opener Sophie Powers goes on, warming up the crowd with her fashionable outfits, spunky energy, and catchy tunes. 8:40, Hunny, a trendy four piece with sparkly guitar riffs, clever lyrics, and a dedicated fanbase. Some of the crowdsurfing starts here, but that’s only the beginning. 9:50, the lights go down and screams erupt. The stage goes black. Shadows emerge, Waterparks guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood come out and take their places. A furry parka walks through center stage- Awsten Knight. Red lights flash and the band begins to perform "ST*RFUCKER", their synth-pop opener. The song is energetic and quick, with an abrupt ending that slides right into "Numb", a jump-heavy hype track off their fourth album, Greatest Hits. The electricity in the room shoots up immediately, as do the crowdsurfers. Awsten feeds off the energy, urging them to keep going up. Heavy drums, guitarist spins, and flashing lights go down. When the song ends, Awsten addresses the audience, thanking them for coming and asking if they’d like to hear more songs. Hard yes.
Throughout their set, the band goes on to highlight music from all their eras throughout the show, playing fan favorites from over 5 years ago such as "Rare", "Stupid For You", and "Royal". Waterparks does a fantastic job of catering to all their fans, regardless of whether they’ve been listening since the first album or the latest one. This is also shown during the acoustic break, where they took fan song requests. LA night one’s surprise set included "Blonde", "Sleep Alone", "21 Questions", and "Not Warriors". The mosh pits are constant throughout the show, and pick up heavily during War Crimes, "[REBOOT]", and "RITUAL". Awsten asks for “more crowd surfers than there’s been all night” during closing song "A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH", and bodies fly over the crowd. When the band says goodnight and walks off stage, everyone yells “ONE MORE SONG!” repeatedly. Waterparks comes back out with three: "REAL SUPER DARK", "Turbulent", and "FUNERAL GREY". The lights are bright, the music is loud, and the vibes are immaculate.
Once the show is over, the crowd files out with huge smiles on their faces. Some are gushing over their concert experience and showing off their caught guitar picks and setlists, some are rushing out to the front to be first in line for night two, some are lingering outside the venue waiting for the band to come out and say hi. Different endings to the night, but all happy. It’s been a pleasure, Waterparks.