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The Academy Is … @ The Trocadero with PARTYBABY.

December 15, 2015
The Academy Is ...

The Academy Is …

Text and images by McCall Cox.

The Academy Is… played a 10 year anniversary show at the Trocadero Theater on Saturday with supporting act PARTYBABY.

PARTYBABY opened the night with their alternative punk-rock sound. The band is originally from California, a four-piece act comprised of Jamie Schefman on vocals and guitar, Noah Gersh on guitar, Chelsea Davis on drums and Austin Taylor Tirado on bass.

“For those of you who think it’s weird up here, it’s about to get a lot weirder,” said Schefman.

Schefman interacted continuously with the audience throughout PARTYBABY’s set, joking about the passion of Philadelphians for the perfect place to get cheesesteaks and mentioning how much The Academy Is… meant to him growing up. Schefman even leapt down from the stage a couple of times to run through the audience.

“Make sure you have fun tonight,” said Gersh after mentioning how much PARTYBABY has enjoyed touring with The Academy Is….

PARTYBABY played songs such as “Everything’s All Right” and “Your Old Man.” Following their set, PARTYBABY frontman Jamie Schefman mentioned his gratitude for the Philadelphia audience.

“The crowd was so lovely and warm for a band that they’ve probably never heard before,” he said. “I think we met some people that hopefully we’ll be friends with for a really long time.”

The Academy Is… was welcomed to the Trocadero stage by an excited audience. The pop-rock group, which originally formed in 2003, had formally announced the band’s departure in 2011. However, the act reunited for a brief tour during December to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their first full-length album, Almost Here.

The band includes William Beckett on vocals, Adam Siska on bass, Mike Carden on guitar and Andy Mrotek, known as “The Butcher,” on drums. The Academy Is… also brought in Ian Crawford for the tour to assist on guitar.

The band commemorated the anniversary of their debut album by performing it in its entirety, opening their set with the first song from the ten-track record, “Attention.”

After a couple of songs, Beckett took a moment to introduce the band and acknowledge how excited the band was to be back in Philadelphia after so many years.

“Ten years … That’s insane!”Beckett said, thanking the audience. “We’ve been coming here forever. Ever since we started as a band, we’ve been coming out east and that was our goal. Like, if we could make it to the east coast, it’s going to be all right. And we did. And ten years later, you guys are here tonight.”

He continued, “This next song is about getting the fuck out and following your dreams and not giving a shit what people think about you. It’s called ‘Black Mamba.’”

Beckett continued to engage the fans, discussing things such as the band’s history and their Chicago roots, mentioning the similarity in weather between the Midwest and Philadelphia. The singer told the audience that the band had packed for the chill of winter but were surprised by the weekend’s warm weather.

“I want you to take care of each other but I also want you to go fucking crazy for this one,” Beckett saidof the final track “Almost Here.” “This is probably the last time you’ll hear this song, so leave it all here tonight. I’m talking to you balcony people, too.”

The vocalist then jumped down from the stage to stand at the barrier and sing with the audience before the band concluded their set and left the stage.

The Academy Is… reappeared onstage to the demands of fans and performed a five song encore, including “LAX To O’Hare” and “About A Girl.”

“We’re not done yet! Put those hands back together. That’s good,” Beckett instructed as the band began the encore with “Bulls In Brooklyn.”

“We’re not just going to play one more song,” the frontman said to a cheering audience. “We’re going to play a few more. Is that okay? We’re not done yet. Fuck no! I need everybody in here to choose one hand and put it in the air. And keep them up there, because we’ve got a big mess on our hands!”

The Academy Is… then performed the single “We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands” from their second album, Santi.

“Well, it’s getting to that time where we have to leave,” Beckett said to the protestations and boos from a sad audience. “This is gonna be it for us. This is going to be our last song of the night. Trust me, we don’t want to leave. We don’t. Thank you so much for helping us celebrate 10 years of Almost Here tonight. We were talking about what song we should end the set with, right? Don’t yell them out.”

As the band began their final track, Beckett said, “I’ve got the perfect one—trust me. We thought this through. And we feel like this next song is the perfect song to end the evening with. So thank you guys so much. Take care of each other out there.”

They finished the night with “After The Last Midtown Show.”

Beckett stood on the barrier and held onto the hands of fans for support. Following the song, the band members all waved goodbye to a cheering audience as the singer climbed back onstage. Beckett then shook the hands of the security guards at the front of the stage and left the audience with a smile and a wave.

After the show, Mrotek told us the band is just focusing on this tour right now.

“We don’t have an official answer,” he said. “We’ve just been talking. There’s a lot to kind of take in with this tour alone. I don’t think it’s a negative thing about not wanting to write more songs but there’s a lot that’s really happening within the anniversary. It’s kind of hard to think about writing something else when it’s almost like we’re reaping or harvesting Almost Here in a way. It’s wild. So with that said, we haven’t had much time to talk about other possibilities.”

Mrotek said that, despite the time the band spent apart, the tour has been an enjoyable experience and a way to relive the past.

“The shows are great. They’re second nature,” he said. “All that came right back. It’s a little different from like five years ago. We’re having a really good time. It’s kind of hard to articulate. Because there is no agenda or no album to push whatsoever, there is this sort of… great little area where we’re just kind of here to have fun, which blows my mind that I’d ever be allowed to do that at 32.

Siska similarly agreed that The Academy Is… is just taking this time to enjoy the tour and celebrate the success and history of Almost Here.

Beckett mentioned, after the show, the reason why Philadelphia made its way onto the brief American reunion tour.

“After tonight, it’s no surprise that we always made Philadelphia a priority on our touring schedule,” he said. “Ever since the beginning, Philly’s been one of those crowds where, if everyone is there for the same reason and everyone is there and committed to the same thing, it’s the best experience that you can have at a live event. But, if everyone isn’t and if the Philly people don’t buy it, they’ll definitely let you know that too. Which is why I loved playing this show. Everyone was there for the same reason. Everyone was there for the right reason. And everyone let it all go. It wasn’t about being cool or selfies or Instagram. It was about celebrating this 10 year anniversary.”

Beckett also reflected on how the time apart may have benefitted the band.

“I feel like we’re better than we ever were, and a lot of that is us individually getting better at our craft,” he added. “But at the end of the night, it’s not about perfection. It’s about the community of it. It’s about the communal involvement and the overall environment. It was just perfect tonight, and I don’t say that about every show. It means a lot to us and to see that kind of reaction tonight. It’s been really good on tour but this was the best.”

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