Capture the originalty of punk rockers The Academy Is… July 8

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1120670579798.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘The Acadmy Is… bring their punk-rock sound to the Freeport Convention Center July 8.’);

“Attention, attention, may I have all your eyes and ears to the front of the room, if only for one second?” sings William Beckett, front man of The Academy Is… on “Attention,” the first track of their first full-length album Almost Here. It’s a heartfelt request, and one that comes from a band that most certainly deserves to be both seen and heard.

Hailing from the boiling hot pop/punk scene of the Chicago suburbs, The Academy Is… is possibly the best band you’ve never heard of—but that’s about to change. This Friday, July 8, the Rockford area will get a proper introduction, as the constantly touring quintet visits the Freeport Convention Center.

While many are content to write off any band that is associated with the word “punk,” it would be foolish in the case of Beckett and his mates.

Surrounded by Mike Carden (guitar), Adam Siska (bass), Tom Conrad (guitar/backing vocals) and Andy Mrotek (drums), Beckett, only 19, is easily the most charismatic frontman to emerge from the Windy City in years. His tall, skinny frame is reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger, and his confident demeanor is both intriguing and alarmingly smooth. He and his fellow band members have collectively broken the mold of conventional punk rock, making it accessible and likeable for music fans of all ages. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common to see parents and their kids singing along to the same songs.

Although The Academy Is… shares some attributes with well-known classic rockers, they are far from being mere imitators. Their sound—though time-tested—is far from stereotypical, and actively challenges the conventional tones of both corporate and punk rock. Make no mistake—The Academy Is … will almost certainly bring their sound to far more massive audiences in the upcoming months. For now, though, as they are still in the early throes of their briskly-paced rise to the top, their originality and sincerity can best be captured in small venues like the ones they are currently playing.

Many may recall their musical and lyrical prowess was on display only a matter of weeks ago, when they rode through Rockford’s Forest Hills Lodge in early May as the main support for current pop-punk darlings Fall Out Boy. Their return to the area, this time as the headliner, is sure to provide a far better showcase for fans that only got a brief taste of their talent during their last visit.

Opening the Freeport show is another pair of Chicago natives: Plain White T’s and June. Plain White T’s, who have released two albums on independent label Fearless Records, will provide the main support. They are continuing to develop their reputation as a solid live act, which they have attained following tours with bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Yellowcard. They will also be joined by Days Away, who, like The Academy Is… are part of the Fueled By Ramen record label family.

The Freeport Convention Center is at 1300 Business 20 in Freeport. Tickets are $10 and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets or at the venue on the day of the show.

For more info, visit and be sure to pick up next week’s edition of The Rock River Times for complete concert coverage including exclusive photos and interviews with The Academy Is… and Plain White T’s.

From the July 6-12, 2005, issue

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