Live Review: Waterparks / Bad Suns / Phem – o2 Academy, Leeds 17/06/2022
Marking the start of the UK leg of the ‘See You In The Future Tour’, tonight sees Waterparks perform at Leeds o2 Academy with support from Phem and Bad Suns. Having had a quick look on social media prior to arriving and seeing that some fans had been there since lunchtime, it was no real surprise to see a huge snaking line of fans (featuring a sea of multi-coloured hair) and I immediately knew I was going to be in for a great night.
First up to support Waterparks is LA based musician, Phem, who has collaborated with the likes of G-Eazy, Machine Gun Kelly, The Hunna and Tyler Posey. Blasting through their set featuring ‘STFU’ and ‘Dead Yet’, Phem covers the whole of the stage, spinning and kicking their way through each song. Before launching into new song ‘BRKDWN’, Phem tells the crowd that whilst it isn’t officially out yet they want to test it to see how the fans like it. Explaining that it is about having a mental breakdown and living in a dream alongside feelings of disassociation, the crowd respond positively when asked at the end if they liked it.
Before the next song begins, Phem brings out a friend who has travelled from LA to be here – Tyler Posey – to much disbelief from the fans (younger me was asking why oh why Tyler couldn’t have come out on stage during the first three songs when I was still in the photo pit – but hey ho!). He asks if the crowd know how to dance before singing a duet with Phem called ‘Shutup’, originally released back in 2021 with Tyler, Phem and Travis Barker on drums. Mentioning they will both be at the merch stand after the show was a sure fire way to guarantee an increase in those sales! Tyler remains on stage with Phem for the remainder of the set playing guitar during the final song ‘Flowers’.
Next up is Bad Suns, a Californian rock band formed in 2012. Having only a week earlier announced that guitarist Ray was no longer touring live in order to pursue other projects, Sam Plecker is a recent addition to the tour team. During ‘Outskirts of Paradise’, the singer stands on the platform at the end of the stage and really gets the crowd involved with a directed to and fro mimicked chant between himself and the fans. The set features a range of hits spanning their career from the early hit ‘Cardiac Arrest’ through to tracks from the new album ‘Apocalypse Whenever’ their fourth album released at the beginning of this year.
Whether it was the newer tracks or the older ones, the crowd didn’t seem to mind with every song sang and danced to with plenty of jumping for good measure. Ending the set with ‘Daft Pretty Boys’, singer Christo shouts ‘Give it up Leeds, we’re Bad Suns!’
Finally, it’s time for Waterparks and the crowd is suitably excited! There has been a quick stage turnaround and as the red lights come on and smoke machines begin, the Texan trio enter the stage. The setlist is absolutely jam packed with no less than 23 songs taken from all their albums, with many of them featuring on the critically acclaimed Greatest Hits album released in May 2021. This was the fourth album the band have released and with teasers of a fifth studio album followed by release of new single ‘Funeral Grey’ back in April, fanms have plenty to look forward to.
Leeds is the first city of the UK leg of the tour and according to lead singer Awsten Knight, has a better crowd than one in South Carolina, US. The crowd respond to this statement with an enraptured Yorkshire chant with Awsten not bothering to fight it and ultimately embracing it, even joining in at one point with the crowd.
At the end of ‘You’d Be Paranoid Too’, Awsten mentions to the crowd how last year the band got an offer last summer from Netflix for their song to be featured in new show, Heartstopper, before going on to play ‘Telephone’ which was played in the first episode of the show.
As the band perform hit after hit, they seamlessly switch from newer tracks to first album songs and at no point do the crowd ever stop singing. Whether it’s the arm swaying during the slower tempo ‘High Definition’ or the dance-pop sounds of ‘Fuzzy’ through to the one man acoustic set that Awsten performs halfway through the set, the crowd eats out of the palm of his hand. It takes a true artist to be able to captivate a crowd the way that he can both during songs but also with the witty banter between tracks.
After playing new release ‘Funeral Grey’ we are treated to a special preview of the yet to be released single ‘Brainwashed’ whetting everyone’s appetites for the fifth album, which is sure to be a huge hit! Ending the night with ‘Violet!’ and ‘Numb’ the fans demand one more song and the band return to the stage to perform ‘Turbulent’.
It’s easy to see why the hardcore fans think nothing of arriving 6 hours before doors open and why they will wait around hours after a gig, Waterparks are not only accomplished musicians and performers, they have a real X-factor about them with a seriously bright (and colourful!) future in front of them! With only a handful of gigs left in the UK before they return back to the US with a few European dates sandwiched in between, tickets can be found here.
Stupid For You
Watch What Happens Next (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)
You’d Be Paranoid Too
I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore
Lowkey As Hell
**Brief segment with Awsten on drums