I was not prepared for what I had entered into when I walked into Delmar Hall. In jean shorts and a tank top, I was completely underdressed for The Aquabats! show in St. Louis, Wednesday, July 15.
Adults and children alike who packed into the Hall were decked out in full Aquabats! costumes, gear, or cosplay-esque outfits. There was a designated area for children to watch from, but the rest of the dance floor was smashed full with eager fans of the headliners.
Kepi opened the show with his one-man-band set. Placed between two microphones with an acoustic guitar strapped around him, Kepi’s set was as silly as it was kid friendly. He got the crowd in the spirit by designating us the ‘drummers’ and giving us ‘solos’ as we clapped our hands to the beat. He frequently switched between the mics, joking about his lack of band members and having conversations with his guitar. Throughout the set, it was made abundantly clear that Kepi is for the kids, with his songs and stories childlike and silly in nature.
After a thirty-minute transition into the next act, Reggie and the Full Effect graced the stage and brought the energy. RFE catered to the older part of the crowd, cracking jokes and jamming on their electric guitars. Their sound reminded me of early 2000s rock, but with eclectic songs about aliens and birds instead of love and life. I was pleasantly surprised by their ability to bring frivolous topics and talent to the same stage. Dressed in martial arts robes, RFE had fun with their set, bringing lots of laughs and stories between each song.
Although it didn’t seem possible, even more people crammed into the venue right before The Aquabats! took the stage. I was looking over a sea of fans in blue suits and aviator goggles as videos from The Aquabats! Super Show! played across a screen above the stage. With the first hint of blue appearing from behind the stage, the crowd went wild, holding up the signature hand signal, and The Aquabats! jumped right into their set full force.
Throughout the show, the screen above the stage served as a supplement to each of their songs, showing two-headed cats, pizza, lyrics, and more. The music was silly and outlandish, but The Aquabats! owned it. The entire show was built on a foundation of embracing the weird, and the crowd fed off it. The Aquabats! engaged the crowd whether it was talking back and forth between songs, or having designated parts in each song for the crowd to sing. They knew their audience and they catered their set perfectly to what their demographic wanted.
During different songs, ‘villains’ would appear on stage and battle it out with the crime-fighters. Sharks, Gary Gluten, and a gingerbread man were all defeated by The Aquabats! in different parts of the show in amusing battles. The band jumped all over the stage and was in constant need of hydration, to which they also hydrated the crowd. Although there wasn’t a sign, the front rows of people were definitely in the splash zone and at the mercy of full, uncapped water bottles. Needless to say, I opted for a more dry area to enjoy the show.
At the beginning of their set, I was unsure as to what I had gotten myself into. My apprehension, though, was soon dissipated as The Aquabats! sang, joked, and fought their way into my heart. The music was wholesome and funny and great for dancing! Listening to The Aquabats! on Spotify is okay, but you won’t understand the phenomena until you are standing amidst avid listeners in full costume, getting to know the personalities of each member on the stage while you watch them fight their adversaries in real time. The last time The Aquabats! were in St. Louis was in 2010, let’s hope it doesn’t take them another seven years to make it back.