The last time I saw William Beckett perform, he had a lot more hair and a much bigger audience; he was still fronting my beloved and late, lamented Chicago-based The Academy Is … on a mainstage at Warped Tour in Charlotte in 2008. I hadn’t figured out how to get press passes yet, so I snapped a few shots of Beckett’s outstanding showmanship with my point-and-shoot and then slogged off with shep. and t. to find someplace shady to sit, because even then we were old people and it’s really hot on parking lots in Charlotte in July.
Last night’s show at the 506 couldn’t have been different in setting — an intimate crowd, though still composed mostly of teenagers, parents chaperoning, and me; a sincere lack of blacktop — but Beckett remains the sharpest songwriter to have come out of the Pete Wentz-centered mid-00s pop-punk Decaydance scene, and even with a short hair cut and no backing band, also still one of the best performers I’ve ever had the chance to see. His songs share Beckett’s tongue in cheek sense of humor — the rollicking chorus of “Girl You Should Have Been A Drummer” is one of the best heartbreak songs I’ve ever heard — and he peppered the set with cheerfully rambling stories (he went out to take a late night phone call in New Jersey and his tour manager filed a missing persons report; his feelings about the merits of various Friends characters) in between the solo material that comprises his new EP, Walk The Talk, and songs that are as yet unreleased.
It was a terrifically charming evening; Beckett has weathered the demise of his band very obviously well, and landed on his feet in every way. Walk The Talk is a catchy slice of indie pop, and you’d do well, if you’ve never bothered with Beckett or his projects before, to check it out.
Full set, including opener Mansions (who was equally charming), is here.