I wish I could say that I’d listened to the band previously, but while I was familiar with their name I hadn’t gotten around to checking them out. Vocalist Matt Clarke shared that they were playing a couple of new songs in their set (the names of which I didn’t know, so have titled them below using lyrics I heard during the show), and while it was interesting to hear the contrast between the new and the old I didn’t know their original style well enough to truly be able to comment upon it; it certainly seems they’re maturing and taking a step towards rock and away from the pop-punk that their earlier material favours (listen to old song ‘More To Me’ – which didn’t make it into their setlist – to see what I mean). If you’re a fan of Decade, Lower Than Atlantis or Twin Atlantic, Milestones are a band you need to look out for.
I only just reviewed Waterparks at Slam Dunk, so you’d be right in thinking that it’s been difficult to write about this show too – that’s why it’s taken me a couple of days to get around to it. I like being able to say new and interesting things, but all I really want to say about this set is that it was fucking awesome.
As soon as Milestones came off stage, the guys were up there getting their gear ready. Awsten was still focused upon finding a fog machine for the band after his thwarted attempt at Slam Dunk, sharing “I get too nervous and I like to cloud everyone with fog!”. There was a lot of excitement when a fog machine was found, but it came with the news that it would take three minutes to warm up; Awsten tried to convince a member of the crowd to get up on stage and entertain everyone, because “I’ve never been here before, I don’t know what you like!”, but with no luck they jumped into a fogless ‘Silver’ (it wasn’t until ‘Pink’ that Awsten realised the fog machine still hadn’t started, so the foglessness continued throughout the set).
I didn’t know any of Waterparks old material before attending these two shows, but even after hearing the songs once they’re instantly memorable: particularly ‘Silver’. Part of that is due to the repetitive nature of the chorus, but following Geoff’s shouted backing vocal with a synth-and-sample filled bridge you can’t predict where the song’s going to go next. It grabs attention, and none of Waterparks songs can be described as forgettable.
I loved discovering tracks like ‘Fantastic’ and ‘New Wave’, especially hearing them for the first time in a live environment. The backing is quite out there (this is a band that take risks, crossing over more genre boundaries than I can count) and it might not have been as effective hearing it as a recording for the first time. I have now purchased both of their original EPs (‘Airplane Conversations’ and ‘Black Light’ respectively) and can’t stop listening to them though… If you go to see Waterparks it’s not a show that you’ll just dismiss the next day: it sticks in your head and makes it impossible not to want to hear them again.
EP ‘Cluster’ was only released over here last week, but a huge portion of the crowd already knew the words to every song that they performed: this might be their first time in the UK, but they’ve certainly been gathering attention for a while. The band were all grateful; Awsten saying that he “didn’t think anyone was going to be here”, only expecting “two or three people […] but you guys proved me wrong!”, and Geoff giving the crowd a huge round of applause. You don’t find many bands coming all the way over from America and being so humble! Waterparks deserve their success, and not just for writing amazingly catchy songs: they’re genuinely nice people doing what they love.
Slam Dunk was definitely a big focus of the conversation in their set – those three dates are the only others that they’ve played in the UK, so Awsten was excited about sharing things that had happened at the festival. As it was their first time here in Camden, they’d been given some tourism advice from Creeper, who also played on the Fresh Blood stage. Creeper had suggested that they use their morning off in Camden to visit Cyberdog, telling them that “the fourth floor is weird”; Waterparks decided to investigate and were blocked from the floor by someone who threatened to call security on them, so they quizzed the crowd to determine who had been in there and what exactly happened up on the fourth floor. Awsten proudly flicked through pictures on his phone, announcing “I made it to the dildos, then I had to go!”.
It’s impossible not to love these guys, because they’re real. They aren’t putting on a performance up on stage, they’re so authentic and unafraid to be themselves. Whether it’s Awsten forcing to crowd to shout “Aluminium!” and cracking up, admitting that he has no idea where Italy is, or joking that the band have no idea how to explain things (when looking for vitamins they described them as nutrients, Awsten shouting “This is barely foreign! If we go to other places and have to explain what things are, we’re gonna die!”), at the end of the set Awsten, Geoff and Otto felt more like friends than performers. They know how to bring people in and make them feel welcome, and that inclusive aura is going to attract more and more people in a very short space of time.
My only complaint is that I wish this set could have been longer. I know, it was their first headline show outside of America and they’re allowed to do a small set, but nine songs just wasn’t enough for me. I don’t think I could ever get bored of Waterparks live show: it wouldn’t have been enough even if they’d been on for two hours!
This time next year Waterparks are going to be playing much bigger venues and everyone in this room will be thankful they were able to experience such a close, intimate set: their first headline show outside of their home state of Texas. I’ve never seen anyone more appreciative.
Waterparks are playing Reading and Leeds festival in August, and I have it on good authority that they will be announcing some UK shows around those dates. Whether those will be as headliner or support it remains to be seen, but I can guarantee that I’ll be attending at least one show on top of their festival appearance. I’m so excited to see them again, and I’m so excited to hear new songs – whenever they might be on their way.
If you haven’t started listening to this band yet, you should do that. Seriously. GO AND DO IT!