The Academy Is…
It’s been almost five years since the Academy Is… last toured, and over six years since their last EP (2009’s Lost in Pacific Time) released. To put it perspective, that EP’s lone feature was listed as “Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin.”
Several years, a few solo projects, and one Andrew McMahon piano-driven band later, William Beckett and company graced the stage of the Observatory in Santa Ana on the night after Christmas in honor of the 10-year anniversary of their debut full-length, Almost Here.
When the band took the stage around 10 p.m., it might as well have been a Saturday night in the mid- to late-2000s. Dozens of younger fans who were undoubtedly seeing the Chicago-based five-piece live for the first time mixed in with those looking for the nostalgia of simpler years when pop punk ruled their burnt CD collection.
Considering that it was a tour celebrating Almost Here, it didn’t surprise much of anyone to hear the band play through “Attention” and “Season” to start the set. When “Slow Down” and “The Phrase That Pays” followed Beckett’s formal expression of gratitude, it was clear that the entire album would be performed in order.
Following the first four songs, the band announced that they’d opened up a few more tickets for their show at Anaheim’s Chain Reaction on Monday. Once the cheers died down, the band continued their singalong set with “Black Mamba” and “Skeptics and True Believers” before Beckett took the time to introduce each one of his bandmates.
Over the course of the evening, it became clear that despite the continuous passing of time, the guys of The Academy Is… still haven’t lost their charm among their primarily female fan base. Microphone swings and front kicks through two of the album’s most famous songs (“Classifieds” and “Checkmarks”) reminded the crowd of what pop punk shows looked and sounded like a decade ago.
Beckett explained that when creating Almost Here, The Academy Is… was just “a handful of suburban kids who wanted to follow our dreams.” A decade later, they still didn’t know what to expect from a tour after the time off, but Beckett confirmed that the road’s been good to them so far before performing “Down and Out” and “Almost Here” for possibly the last time in Santa Ana.
A brief break preceded the encore. With short breaks and introductions for nearly every song, the band knocked out three songs from their second album, Santi, (“Bulls in Brooklyn,” “LAX to O’Hare,” and “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands”) and two more from their third and final full-length — 2008’s Fast Times at Barrington High (“About a Girl” and “After the Last Midtown Show”).
All in all, it was a solid performance of one of the most underrated albums from the mid-2000s pop punk scene. The Academy Is… may not be remembered by history as much as some of their contemporaries, but a strong second run could certainly change all of that. For now, they’re back and have more fans (and hair) than ever.
The Phrase That Pays
Skeptics and True Believers
Down and Out
Bulls in Brooklyn
LAX to O’Hare
About a Girl
We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands
After the Last Midtown Show