Academy Is plays sold-out Picador


The Academy Is gives fans a roller-coaster ride through an acoustic performance.

The Academy Is gave the crowd a plentiful mix of songs from the past and present when it performed to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night at the Picador. The show was part of the Snakes & Suits Acoustic Tour that included opening acts Evan Taubenfeld, who is Avril Lavigne’s former lead guitarist, and Chicago-based band Empires.

Normally a quintet, when The Academy Is took the stage, it consisted of vocalist William Beckett and his guitar for the whole set, save for harmonica player and bassist Adam Siska, who appeared for two songs.

If the crowd at first was hesitant or disappointed that it was strictly an acoustic show, those feelings didn’t last long. Beckett opened with a cover of the Damien Rice song “Elephant.” Given that the song was slower and not an original from The Academy Is, the excitement from first seeing the lead singer walk out died down slightly.

As Beckett continued with the popular tracks “Classifieds” and “After the Last Midtown Show” he refueled the audience’s enthusiasm, for a least a little while.

The crowd’s participation came in waves throughout the early part of the show. Toward the end, tracks “His Girl Friday” and “The Test,” both from the band’s most recent album *Fast Times At Barrington High*, garnered good audience response and kept the energy up until the show’s conclusion.

However, the song “Attention,” from the band’s first full-length album, *Almost Here*, sparked the biggest crowd reaction. As the song began and the whole venue sang along without missing a beat, Beckett paused and took a step back before saying, “You guys may have just won my heart.” The statement caused the whole crowd to burst with screams of delight.

Deciding to take another break from his own songs, Beckett performed another purely indulgent cover, the Shins’ “Gone for Good,” which slightly lowered the audience’s enthusiasm once more. Shortly after, the singer faltered in addressing the crowd as students from Iowa State, earning him a few scattered boos, but he recovered quickly with the song “Eastbound Traffic.”

As Beckett began to close the set, he fit in older tracks “Fever” and “Slow Down,” which led into the song everyone was waiting for, “About a Girl.” As the crowd’s power seemed to peak, Beckett, joined by Siska, extended the chorus a few times before calling it a night and ending the 16-song set.

The acoustic style may have a been a letdown for those who wanted to rock out to the usual drums and electric guitar The Academy Is supplies, but the audience stuck by Beckett throughout and stayed until the singer’s final swipe of his sweaty bangs.

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