Waterparks plays an electric show in Atlanta

Awsten Knight, lead singer of Waterparks, performs with band members Geoff Wigington and Otto Wood at The Tabernacle. // Photo by Sloan Salinas Student Publications

When people think about going to concerts, most seem less willing to consider going to a show on a Monday night. However, that was not the case for fans of pop rock band Waterparks. More than three hours before the doors of the Tabernacle opened that evening, there was already a line wrapped all the way around the building. Hundreds of people braved the windy Atlanta afternoon to get a good spot for the show. 

Waterparks was originally formed in 2011 in Houston, Texas. Since its start, the band has released five studio albums, with their most recent album, “Intellectual Property,” having come out nearly a year ago. Currently, the group consists of Geoff Wigington (backing vocals and lead guitar), Otto Wood (backing vocals and drums) and Awsten Knight (lead vocals and rhythm guitar). Though Knight is the only founding member of Waterparks remaining, the other two joined only a year later. 

The Tabernacle venue is located directly behind SkyView Atlanta in a converted church building, which is ironic considering the name of Waterparks’s current tour: “the Sneaking out of Heaven Tour.” At 6 p.m., the doors opened, and fans began to fill both the ground floor and upper balcony levels excitedly. 

The first band took the stage around an hour afterward. One of two openers, “bubble grunge” group Pollyanna immediately brought the room’s energy up, putting on a show that was the perfect match for Waterparks fans with their dynamic stage presence and lead singer’s glowing green hair and equally vibrant outfit. 

Following Pollyanna was the pop-punk duo Loveless, featuring vocalist and producer Julian Comeau and “multi-instrumentalist” Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail. The group went viral several years ago by posting “What if ______ was pop punk” videos — reimagined covers of popular songs — on TikTok. Later, they moved on to posting original music, which was met with the same love. During their set, they performed an unreleased song, “I Love It When It Rains,” as well as a short mashup of their most well-known covers (which, before this tour, had not been performed live).

In between Loveless and Waterparks, the stage crew worked to quickly flip the stage, setting up new instruments and revealing a large “house” set, complete with three doors and multiple windows, as well as stair-like platforms. Minutes after all the preparations were finished, the house lights darkened, eliciting deafening cheers from the audience as the time they had all been waiting for finally arrived. The onstage “house” lit up as flames were projected onto the windows. Over the speakers, a snippet of the song “Watch What Happens Next” played, and one by one, the doors opened, and the band members walked out, first Wood, then Wigington and finally, Knight.

Knight is known for having a creative and eccentric personality both on and off stage, highlighted by his habit of dying his hair a different color for every album “era,” his interaction with fans on social media (almost always in all caps) and his ever-present sense of humor. During tours, he often paints different shapes over his eyes, such as stars and neon upside-down crosses that many fans will also sport at the concerts (something that the frontman says he loves to see). 

Throughout their 22-song setlist, Waterparks jumped between different albums, interacting with each other, the set and the audience. At one point in the middle of the show, the band left the stage, much to the crowd’s confusion. A sheet dropped in front of the stage, creating a makeshift projector screen, onto which was projected a shadow scene of Knight sitting on a stool while introspective music played, and a woman’s voice slowly read a piece about overcoming religious trauma. The sheet dropped and was collected by a crew member. That segment was immediately followed by the song “Sneaking Out of Heaven,” the tour’s namesake. 

Another notable moment involved a fan holding up a stack of cowboy hats with fuzzy rims. Upon seeing the fan, Knight began talking with her, asking if she wanted them to wear the hats, which she confirmed. At this, Knight asked if they’d been checked for lice — a joke referring to one of their earlier shows on the tour where there was an unfortunate lice outbreak afterward. Upon her assurance, however, Knight took the hats, distributing them amongst the band members. 

“Do any of you have parents who exclusively listen to country music?,” he asked the crowd. “You should send them a picture of us with these hats on like, ‘Yeah, you should check them out, they’re exactly like Kenny Chesney.’” The audience laughed.

For the entire night, the crowd never seemed to get tired. They constantly sang along loudly, jumped around and crowd-surfed (sometimes even when the lights were off between songs, which Knight also commented on, saying, “Atlanta trusts Atlanta”). 

Waterparks fans have a fierce love and dedication for the band, a love that the group clearly reciprocates, making sure to give their all when performing onstage. In an Instagram story following the show, Knight posted, “favorite Atlanta show ever!!!!!! i appreciate that energy so much.”