October 24th, 2007Ã¢â‚¬”The 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. A high-ceilinged, cavernous room, equipped with the relatively small stage, ample floor space, and spacious balcony seating well-suited for the intimate big band shows the 9:30 Club is known for are all part of the setting visible to the plethora of young rock fans awaiting the headliners of the Sleeping with Giants Tour. It’s approximately 9:00, and after enjoying, and inevitably singing and dancing with and moshing to, the four other bands in the diverse lineup offered to fans on this tour (The Rocket Summer, Sherwood, Armor for Sleep, and the recently added Cobra Starship), the audience is restless, some migrating to the close by merch tables and others even daring to venture to the club’s sports bar.
But at the soft strum of a guitar, and the appearance of the five young men comprising band The Academy Is…,the crowd focused full attention on the stage, drawn to the rock’n’roll-rooted band like flies to a strong light.
Although only five years in the making, indie label Fueled By Ramen The Academy Is… has already made huge strides towards success in the alternative rock genre. Since switching labels in 2004 (after impressing FBR with self-titled EP Ã¢â‚¬Å“The AcademyÃ¢â‚¬), TAI has produced two well-received studio albums, in addition to touring with a slew of successful bands, including renowned pop punk band Fall Out Boy. TAI’s soft alternative sound is defined by frontman William Beckett’s serene, feminine vocals. The Sleeping With Giants tour marked their first headlining tour after revealing sophomore album Ã¢â‚¬Å“SantiÃ¢â‚¬, and thus far, has been as successful as the band itself.
Needless to say, TAI’s rousing live performance and lively band members were more than enough to get fans yet again moving. Frontman William Beckett seemed to recognize the effectiveness of focusing more on performing for the audience than speaking to them. Generally quiet though he may have been, he had a very strong connection to the crowd, who he entertained with his constant movement and uniquely soft singing voice.
Beckett’s singing combined with the raw talent of band members Andy Mrotek, Mike Carden, Adam Siska, and recently recruited guitarist Michael Guy Chislett created a great live performance that matched if not trumped the sounds on their studio albums. Their wide-ranged set list contributed to the quality of their set. TAI played hits both off of debut full-length album, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Almost HereÃ¢â‚¬ and April 2007 release, Ã¢â‚¬Å“SantiÃ¢â‚¬, many tracks of which hadn’t been performed live prior to the Sleeping With Giants tour. Starting with song Ã¢â‚¬Å“Same BloodÃ¢â‚¬ and wrapping up with Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everything We HadÃ¢â‚¬, The Academy Is… put on a very worthwhile show that, along with the quality of the other four bands’ performances, produced a top notch show experience.
These Ã¢â‚¬Å“other four band’s performancesÃ¢â‚¬ can hardly go without mention, as each contributed to the high quality of the show.
First to perform, and most recently added to the tour, was up and coming techno-incorporated band Cobra Starship. Having had their own sophomore album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã‚¡Viva La Cobra!Ã¢â‚¬ released the prior day, Cobra Starship was on top of their game. Cobra completed captivated the audience throughout their notably brief performance, something probably attributed to frontman Gabe Saporta’s larger than life stage presence.
Sherwood, the most obscure band in the lineup, performed second, delivering a good quality though nondescript performance. Their alternative rock sound transferred well from the studio to the stage, Sherwood’s only hindering factor being their lack of strong connection with the audience.
Rather than continuing with Sherwood’s trend of slight indistinctness, The Rocket Summer put on a show comparable to that of Cobra Starship. The Rocket Summer’s performance was optimistic, fresh, and rejuvenating, administering a crowd-pleasing sound and completely rousing the audience with their guitar and piano-integrated sound.
Prior to The Academy Is… was Armor for Sleep, providing the darkest sound and lyrics of all of the artists in the lineup. Band members donned ironically in clothing that made them appear as though they were schoolboys, Armor For Sleep gave a very interesting performance, their set list including a wide range of songs off of all three of their albums.
Needless to say, what with its diverse and wholly positive lineup, The Academy Is…’s Sleeping With Giants tour is one to watch as it continues into November.