Muruch’s occasional Mid-West reviewer/photographer Jen “Coble” Hopper was in the crowd for The Academy Is… show on September 5th at The Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City. You can read her thoughts about the concert along with her photographs below…
Last Sunday, September 5th, The Academy Is… detoured off of their summer arena tour with KISS to play an intimate gig at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City.
As a Chicago-area music lover, this was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. Even though The Academy Is… (TAI) plays a few Chicago shows per year, they always sell out quickly, the venue packed to the gills with their hometown fans, the crowd eager and frenzied over front man William Beckett.
With good reason.
The Iowa City crowd certainly had the TAI energy down.. As I waited near the front of the crowd, I met two University of Iowa students, Hannah and Macy, who were pumped and ready for the show to start and shared their love for the band.
No one could have walked away from this show unimpressed or unaffected.
William Beckett commands the stage like he wrote the book on it. His height may be an advantage, and he works it – frequently reaching his long arms into the audience to touch and engage the crowd, letting them sing the nostalgic lyrics back at him. They push and raise their arms and reach for him, shouting his words at the tops of their lungs.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s attractive, but moreover, he is ELECTRIC.
The sound of collective voices singing fills the whole room. This is always my favorite part. It’s nothing shy of moving.
Are there other members of The Academy Is…? Actually, there are and each one is incredibly talented, but they also do an excellent job of letting William do his thing – he prances back and forth, engaging everyone in the audience, making eye contact, being nothing short of captivating. Between songs we hear the Butcher’s voice from behind the drumset, introducing a couple of songs and bantering with William. But otherwise, even when it isn’t a solo set (which William did last year on the Snakes & Suits acoustic tour), this is the William Beckett show and he owns the audience’s face for the next hour.
As the show carried on, the venue temperature rose quickly to approximately five thousand degrees, so I left the lack of personal space in favor of taking a voyeuristic spot off to the side. Now, I could see guitarist Mike Carden, stage right, draping himself around a giant fan for relief between songs. We were all soaked from the heat but no one complained. We were all in this together.
After William eventually announced that they would play just a few more songs, there was a noticeable increase in energy and he all but threw himself into the crowd, singing and touching and giving the performance and the crowd all that he had. He took a moment to focus on a guy in the front who had been screaming every word of every song with fervor, holding him by the head as they sang together. Said fan is elated.
The end of the show came too soon and the band disappeared out the side door while the smiling, sweaty crowd had a moment to process the performance. All I know is, I wish I could do this very thing every night. The Academy Is… makes me feel alive.