Am I too old for Waterparks? On aging out of liking a band
May 4, 2023
The new Waterparks album made me feel old. I listened to “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” the day that it came out, and I was looking forward to it so much that I already bought tickets for their (now sold out) Pittsburgh show months in advance. But listening to the album, I felt like maybe their music just wasn’t for me anymore.
Waterparks has always been one for not taking themselves too seriously. They create music that reflects the artistic interests of lead singer Awsten Knight at the same time as creating moments (such as the band’s short interlude “Group Chat” on the album “Fandom”) that are just too funny to not laugh at. “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” provides the best example of this trend out of all of their releases— I got some giggles out of the anti-sex PSA meme dropped at the beginning of “RITUAL,” but I was also entranced by the rapid EDM bass notes immediately following that moment.
I could get into that song, but for others, I felt separated. The rapper-turned-pop punk artist blackbear performs on their song “F*** ABOUT IT.” I have always disliked his music and detested how artists like him and Machine Gun Kelly have switched their image to follow the trends of what music is “cool” for a quirky white boy to make while not understanding the culture from which the music they’re creating comes. I honestly find his verse so unbearable to listen to to the point where I removed my headphones when I got to that point in my first listen-through of the album. Moments like this were riddled throughout the album—I had to find out from Twitter that the sample at the end of “END OF THE WATER (FEEL)” was YouTuber Kurtis Conner, and “2 BEST FRIENDS” sounded more like a nursery rhyme than a pop punk song to me.
I used to be more active on Twitter, too, but have since outgrown the superfan culture that it cultivates. I did decide to see what people on there thought about the album, and I was taken aback. Tweets from fans called the album “one of the greatest albums of all time in general, not just Waterparks’s discography,” “extremely in depth and personal,” even “one of the most incredible pieces of art [the Twitter user has] ever heard.” I thought it was kind of just ok, not the type of thing I would have listened to if I hadn’t grown up with the band. It even killed it commercially—it gave Metallica’s “72 Seasons” a run for the top spot on Official Charts and Billboard.
Was I missing something about this album? Sure, songs like “BRAINWASHED” hit the classic Waterparks staples of being cute and bubbly with lyrics that the listeners could embarrassingly admit that they relate to, but I didn’t think the overall album was groundbreaking enough to constitute the rave it was receiving. The scariest thought a college student can have crept into the back of my mind. I was too old for it. Four years earlier, I was spam tweeting SiriusXM Hits 1 to get them to debut Waterparks’s “Dream Boy” on their show (which, by the way, actually happened), and now, I can barely listen to the album top to bottom without cringing. Was I too out of touch to enjoy their music?
Maybe I am. Maybe Waterparks stopped being “good” to me the second I deleted my Twitter account. My best friend and I discussed how we thought their promotion skills had weakened since 2019, but they recently tweeted that if they sold out their entire tour, they would release 100 never-before-heard demos. That tops anything they did back then, and we just didn’t see it because we don’t follow them as closely. A lot of their allure comes from their image, from Knight’s quirky all-caps tweets and the social media trends they promote. I started to worry that what kept me most interested in them wasn’t for me anymore, and I would have to say goodbye to a band I’d grown up with.
But then again, I still do like some songs on the album. I’m anxiously awaiting their show in May, and they’re still my most listened to artist of all time on Spotify. Memories of listening to them on my trudge to after-school soccer practice and seeing them live in one of my favorite concert venues have shaped how I’ve grown through my teenage years. Is it fair to say that I don’t like them anymore? Maybe their new stuff isn’t for me, but in my mind, Waterparks will always be one of my favorite bands.
I might feel a little too old, a little too separated from their social media presence to really enjoy their new music, but what they’ve already released is laced with my memories of early high school and figuring life out. And I’m glad that Waterparks was one of the bands there with me the whole way through, because even though I can’t get behind “2 BEST FRIENDS,” I can love the way that the band creates one of the most unique listening experiences I’ve ever heard and makes their music almost interactive from the fan’s perspective. So yes, I have outgrown Waterparks. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love them.