All Words and Photos: Emily Sisson
Uh oh, Waterparks turned dark. The industry! What have we done to them? Isn’t it obvious? If beauty is pain, then the same translates that pain is also beauty. This is especially apparent in Waterparks new album “Intellectual Property” where singer Awsten Knight has beautifully and meticulously crafted lyrics to the heartbreaking pain and self actualization he acquired within his rise to stardom in the last 7 years. The album “Intellectual Property” is a play on the idea of “ mental real estate” or the amount of attention you choose to give any subject. This new album combines the bands Pop Punk, Grunge and Electronic roots into a new, exciting, previously untapped genre of music that fans as well as members of the alternative scene have surely been thirsting for. It seems that in expressing their dissatisfaction within their “Role” in the music industry, Waterparks has also found their success, evolving their sound and manifesting into all they dreamed up (at least on the outside). Total Pokémon moment. Go “Otto, Go!
Intellectual Property Tracklist:
2. REAL SUPER DARK
3. FUNERAL GREY
5. 2 BEST FRIENDS
6. END OF THE WATER (FEEL)
9. FUCK ABOUT IT (FT. BLACKBEAR)
11. A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH
Back in December 2022 the Band Waterparks, Awsten Knight (lead vocals/ guitar) Geoff Wigington(guitar) and Otto Wood (Drums) announced that the would be headlining and performing over 30 shows in the US during the PROPERTY TOUR 2023. Wednesday, May 10th 2023 Waterparks performed their first ever headlining show at The Rave in Milwaukee WI. Last time I had seen the band play this venue was back in 2016 opening up for Never Shout Never, before the band had even released their first studio album! I can tell you, a lot has changed.
Waterparks has continued their long history of linking color and emotion on this fifth studio album “ Intellectual Property”. The album cover is bright red and doubtlessly in your face, invoking passionate feelings of lust and violence… or what I like to call “Lusty Violence”. Much like the Blue Poison Dart frog that sits center of the album, Awsten compares himself to intaking his surroundings and over time becoming poisonous like a Dendrobates Tinctorius (they aren’t born that way) . Last year however, brought a salubrious comradery to the frog. Awsten has spoken about writing the album saying that he “has learned more about how to compartmentalize his emotions” and truly “open himself up to collaboration with other musical artists” after being generally uneasy about it in the past.
Two songs off this album were written in partnership with “Julian Bunetta”, a producer/songwriter best known for his work for the international pop stars of “One Direction”. Hence the emotionally alternative yet poppy and bodacious melodies featured in the song “Funeral Grey”. “ I know you’re dying wish / is to be baptized in my spit” is a particularly stand out lyric that emphasizes the way in which Awsten creates music in hopes of eliciting an uncontrollable reaction from his listeners as they try to figure out “is this guy serious?” But let’s take a deeper look….
Apart from surface level interpretations of songs on “Intellectual Property”, what we know is the album is drenched with references to a “spiritual awakening” and the religious perceptions held previously by Awsten Knight. One month before the album release, he chose to expound on the album’s core message and creative choices in a tweet sharing…
“A large part of the album has to do with processing and growing past religious guilt. It ranges from sexual guilt or even down to the way I live my life, but that’s a large part of why there are notable hyper-sexual elements to some of the music in this story; it’s growing past the guilt it comes with, normalizing the feelings, and defying those learnings.”
During the Milwaukee show Awsten read out signs from the audience “ I want to show y’all the difference between the signs and messages being called out here…. this one says “play lucky people” and that one says “spit on me”” Surely anyone who attends a show can tell it’s hardly metta when 100s of girls in one room are unironically obsessed with this man.
Austin spoke, that in the writing of “Intellectual Property” he decided to “Sonicly Simplify” the process at beginning. Taking a step back as he had years ago to a time before his career blossomed and fame brought him all his luxe and connections. Though, this blooming of art has brought many opportunities for collaborations with other artists free flowing and ambiguous in genre. Kurtis Conner featured on “END OF THE WATER (FEEL)” and Danny Gonzolas (both Youtubers) are now strangely connected to music with Awsten Knight. Explain to me again how these artists correlate? On another end of the spectrum, the song “ FUCK ABOUT IT ft. Blackbear” pairs the band with a very prominent name in Alternative RnB. Waterparks also accompanied Blackbear on his own headlining tour that ran for 21 shows last year in September. By the end of the tour the connections were made and plans for the song collaboration had been set.
The Waterparks show at the Rave bought fans in from all over. I spoke to multiple concert go-ers who had driven over 6 hours to see the show after the band’s show at The Crofoot in Pontiac, MI had sold out! This performance lasted just over an hour while still slotting time on the set list for “Whatever Awsten Is Doing” (see setlist ). A well rounded and Eclectic song selection was played including music from all 5 albums. The setlist was as follows :
STUPID FOR YOU
2 BEST FRIENDS
FUCK ABOUT IT
(WHATEVER AWSTEN IS DOING)
A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH
REAL SUPER DARK