It has been seven years since The Academy Is… has played a show. Back in 2015, they put on a ten year anniversary tour for their debut album, Almost Here, and it was an immaculate reunion, that left the fans curious as to what would happen next. Following the tour, the anticipation faded and no one really heard from them… until this past year.
Rumors started circulating once the band became active on social media — Facebook specifically. This is often a popular chess move made by bands on the brink of a revival or reunion tour: they test the waters by changing a profile picture or perhaps a random throwback picture, and see how engaged the audience is. The fans were extremely responsive and it left them wanting more. They followed their last recipe of success which was reuniting at the coveted Chicago’s Riot Fest in 2015. This time they even added a show the night before their Riot Fest set, and they brought another beloved band to open for them with — Midtown. Midtown and The Academy Is… have an extensive history together and if you were into pop-punk in the early 2000’s, there’s a high chance you owned a couple of their CDs or had an issue of Alternative Press with them gracing the covers.
It was the eve of The Academy Is…’s Riot Fest performance and a perfect fall night in their hometown of Chicago. Most of the crowd had spent all day braving the crowds at Riot Fest, but this had no effect on their energy and anxious excitement whatsoever. For most fans, this was a trip back in the time machine, to their teenage days of angst. While those high school days proved to be the end of the world at the time, one thing was for certain: The Academy Is…’s music was always there, like a close friend on a bad day. For it to be nearly fifteen years later, and to still have the privilege to sing along with these lyrics live is something no one takes for granted.
The anticipation was at an all time high and finally The Academy Is… came out strong, opening their set with their cult classic hit, “The Phrase That Pays.” It was the perfect opener and a song that matched the energy of the crowd perfectly. The rest of the set was a perfect showcase of all of the fan favorites, with songs off their sophomore release Santi causing a stir, to their most recent full length, Fast Times at Barrington High, initiating the crowd to enter the nostalgic daydream of their youth. There were tears, there was sweat and above all there was a united audience, in perfect symmetry with The Academy Is….
The Academy Is… was the first band I ever snuck out for, at the age of fifteen. I’ll never forget that night that was the catalyst for my love of live music. I could still feel the same emotions throughout the entire show and my admiration for these artists has only grown over the years. It was cool to gaze around the venue and see that I was sharing this moment with many others who feel the same way.
There’s no question in what was the surprise highlight of the night and it involves old friends, a few snakes and an airplane. The absolutely chaotic and thrilling movie, “Snakes On A Plane,” hit theaters in 2006 and it also brought the notorious self titled track “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It).” William Beckett of The Academy Is… is a guest vocalist on the track, alongside Cobra Starship. This all comes together when you have fellow emo cult classic band, “Midtown,” opening the show that night, which lead vocalist happens to be the vocalist of Cobra Starship — Gabe Saporta. The crowd went absolutely insane and it was truly one of my favorite moments at a show ever.
Many thanks to The Academy Is… for still having that same magnetic and powerful energy and enticing us all in for another go at reliving our youth. You can catch them overseas next year performing at Slam Dunk Festival in the United Kingdom.