Two Bogus Journeys in One: We The Kings and The Academy Is @ Mr. Small’s Theatre in Pittsburgh 11/8/08

Let me open with this: the Pittsburgh bus system can die in a fire.

Because of the extreme difficulty of getting to Mr. Small’s Theatre/Funhouse (which is located OUTSIDE the city because heaven forbid you make anything accessible to young people. You’d rather make it incredibly difficult for them to get to shows or anything fun that’s not sports related, and then complain that they leave the city after high school. And you don’t take the chance to build more venues in the city to attract bigger acts and maybe bring in some fracking money. OH NO! YOU WON’T DO ANYTHING THAT MAKES SENSE. Done now) via a bus, I completely missed the opening sets. Hey Monday had unfortunately canceled, but this means I missed all of Carolina Liar. I apologize, I was really hyped on seeing and shooting their set. Blame a combination of the Pittsburgh bus system, Google Transit and my own bad mood that evening.

However, I did get to see the sets by both We the Kings and The Academy Is… And that was plenty worth the trip.

I’d seen We the Kings earlier this year when they were out on the Really, Really Ridiculously Good Looking Tour with Cobra Starship. Afterwards, “Check Yes, Juliet” became one of my favorite songs of the summer, largely because it brought back memories of the band closing their high energy set with the song.

And the guys didn’t disappoint on Saturday night either. While Travis apologized for his voice not being in top shape, you could hardly tell. Plus, the sold out crowd was too busy singing along to really notice! The guys kept the crowd rocking and rolling through songs like “Secret Valentine” and, of course, “Check Yes, Juliet.” Oh, and they managed to include a cover of “Feel Good, Inc.” by the Gorillaz, with Travis and Hunter sharing vocal duties during the song’s incredibly dirty rap.

Oh, and don’t forget, these guys are up for an MTVU Woodie Award for “Breaking Woodie.” I’ll…leave the sexual overtones of that alone. They’re up against artists like All Time Low and Tyga, but we won’t know until November 19th who takes the Woodie home.

…I even find that to be in somewhat poor taste.

One the guys finished up, it was time for The Academy Is… to take the stage.

And really, what can I say about a TAI… show that fans don’t already know? All five of the guys are incredibly talented and put on one hell of a show. They get intensely into their music, Mike Carden, Michael Guy Chislett and Adam T. Siska rock the fuck out. Siska races from the back of the stage to the front of the stage constantly, and shares grins with The Butcher in between numbers. Oh, and drinks from a mysterious red plastic cup. Don’t think I didn’t see that, Sisky.

Then there’s William Beckett. Beckett has pretty much elevated the rock star strut to an artform like no one since Mick Jagger. The man can work a crowd like few I’ve ever seen before. During nearly every song he reaches out into the audience to hoardes of screaming (mostly female) fans.

He even makes me fangirl a little bit while I’m trying to do the serious photographer/reporter thing. When he hit the line “I’m not saying that I’m not breaking some hearts tonight,” in “Slow Down” I have to confess: my knees went weak.

Along with “Slow Down,” TAI… showed off their musical chops with songs like “The Phrase that Pays,” “Almost Here,” “Neighbors,” and the heart wrenching “Everything We Had” which is even harder for me to listen to in person. They also rocked out with stuff from their new CD Fast Times at Barrington High, including the singles “About a Girl” and “Summer Hair/Forever Young,” as well as “His Girl Friday,” and Guy Ripley‘s favorite “Beware! Cougar!”

What made me smile the most, however, was that the band played “Black Mamba.” That is THE song that made me a fan of The Academy Is… Something in me resonates with the song’s message of “I’m doing this and screw what the critics say.”

I would like to take this chance to say that I had no pit to shoot in. I was directly offstage the whole show. Which both helped and hurt my shots. But I would like to take this chance to apologize to Mike Carden and William Beckett who both seemed surprised to see me taking pictures off stage:

I am really sorry if I got flash in your eyes. I tried not to. And I’m sorry if I was distracting. But THANK YOU and the rest of your band, and We The Kings and Carolina Liar (;_;) for adding that extra show in Pittsburgh. It was an amazing night.

Bill and Trav’s Bogus Journey continues. And check out the rest of my shots from the show here!