Inside the Waterparks “Entertainment Tour”

Waterparks & Company visit Ace of Spades  

Enthusiastic cheers echoed the hall, hands were held high and a real sense of community could be felt in the air at Ace of Spades on Sunday, Nov. 25th. This was one of the final shows of Waterparks’ “Entertainment Tour,” which featured performers such as De’Wayne Jackson feat. Dominic Stepanian, Nick Gray, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, Super Whatevr and, of course, Waterparks.

From Nov. 2 to Dec. 1, the “Entertainment Tour” rocked its way through 22 states, met thousands of dedicated fans and performed many nights in the spotlight. From Florida all the way to California, the performers stayed busy in their one-month timeline.

The line-up of these performers — being an amalgam of genres that span from hip-hop, rap, pop, punk, new wave to indie — put on a phenomenal show and found a way to make each performance unique as well as engaging. From start to finish, the concert was loud and live; it was a rollercoaster ride through a genre wonderland. Some performers vibing to deep 808 basslines and others bringing the audience into a head banging rock show, which kept the night electric and the music alive.

All of the performers on the “Entertainment Tour” had been travelling together as an entourage, but catch their sets apart from the rest of the touring musicians and one would be perplexed as to how these differing genres work so well together on a tour.

Waterparks, hailing from Houston, Tex. is a next-gen pop-punk trio that can quickly get any crowd on their feet, as they did at Ace of Spades. Watching and listening from afar, they play as if they were a direct product of Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy in the early 2000’s — a memento from that one emo phase everyone considered going through. When they came on stage, the crowd went wild. It was a punk show but a safe space — everyone rocked out while loving and hugging each other between songs.

Superwhatvr, is an indie-band out of Orange County, Calif. According to its website, its songs “don’t seek to push away the darkness. Instead, they invite it in.” They are gritty, ultra-indie and have hints of gothic inspiration by way of their lyrics. It’s hard to tell whether they were listening to Grizzly Bear or Joy Division when they found their original inspiration, but their music could probably satisfy both styles. The lights went low and red when they came on stage, and the reverb/chorus/delay mix on their guitar and vocals brought the crowd into a moody realm, sometimes hanging their heads and sometimes doing the goth hop.

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, often shortened to IDKHow, comes from Salt Lake City, Utah and is a band that considers themselves “out of time [and] one who faded away into obscurity” according to their website. With strong influences from the 1980’s new wave culture, their two-man band plays musical chairs between dumsets, guitars, microphones and keyboards. If a 80’s new wave fan were in the audience, they would have wondered whether they were watching an IDKHow show or a Depeche Mode reunion. Their music has a sense of longing and self-reflection, and against their electro-bass musical backdrop, the crowd danced like it was ‘88 and they were all wearing sunglass (at night).

Nick Gray, a rapper from Boston, Mass., sounds much like a perpetually autotuned Mac Miller. With his mic out of the stand and his crew dancing on-stage, Gray’s performance focused heavily on the choruses of his songs, which were always catchy enough to have the bulk of the crowd singing it for him. The 808’s slapped hard and, beyond the crowds control, they vibed to it.

De’Wayne Jackson, from Spring, Tex. and his featured guitarist, Dominic Stepanian of Grass Valley, CA are a duo that performed a blend of alt-rock, soulful R&B with a touch of hardcore-rap. One moment Jackson could be hitting a trap-worthy freestyle and the next he could be serenading the audience with angelic vocals against some bluesy guitar, or he might just hit go on a fast-paced, rap-punk song and start a mosh pit. The vivaciousness that Jackson puts into the spotlight is something similar to that of a modern-day Freddie Mercury, and Stepanian, with his ‘77 Gibson Les Paul in-hand, would surely leave Joe Bonamassa enthralled as he shredded a number of solos and made it look easy.

After the show, Stepanian took some time to answer questions about the tour, the performance and his experience being featured as De’Wayne Jackson’s guitarist on the tour.

“It’s so special to be on tour with such an amazing friends,” Stepanian said. “Especially getting to create and play music every night. Everyone we’ve travelled with puts on an amazing performance, especially De’Wayne, so my ultimate goal is to add any subtle nuances to his already unique sound, while also ensuring that I bring a bluesy, funky style that I love so much to table.”

Sacramento stood out from the rest of the shows on the tour.

“Although it is somewhat biased for me, since I’m from the Sacramento area, this was by far the best show on the tour,” Stepanian said. “Not only was I able to look out from the stage and see a wave of familiar faces, but the energy from everyone was electric that night. We had just left the Midwest and I believe everyone was already in high spirits to be in sunny California, but after the show, every performer had commented on how my ‘home-crowd’ was truly amazing.”

The tour was 23 shows in 28 days and flew by quickly.

“By the time we got to Sacramento, we all had grown very close on the tour,” Stepanian said. “So, when show time came, it was good vibes all around. Plus, since I was so close to home, it didn’t hurt to sleep in my own bed for a couple nights.”

The “Entertainment Tour,” focused heavily on blending a number of genres together to create a unique, one of a kind tour for its fans.

“I personally think that it is because of the trying times we live in why so many different art forms are being meshed together,” Stepanian continued. “Especially because music can be the means for ones’ self-expression and identification. Trying times calls for innovation [and] that is this tour. Something new and great for the world. I’m so happy to have been a part of this wonderful tour to help spread peace and positivity in a country that needs a lot more of it.”

Stepanian is not wrong. Change is essential, especially in music. This tour demonstrated the grand possibilities for music production and touring in the 21st century. The “Entertainment Tour” may have wound down, but the memories will live on for a lifetime. For the endless crowds of fans and the musicians alike.

Each artist from the “Entertainment Tour” can be found on Spotify, Soundcloud and their social media accounts.

Written by: Jarrett Rogers — arts@theaggie.org

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