There are certain people that I will never miss when they come to town. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them or what project they come to town with, I will be there. Andrew McMahon is one of those people. Andrew was the frontman of one of my all time favorite bands- Something Corporate. After that he moved on to Jack’s Mannequin and has finally landed in Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. I’ve seen all of his projects but last night was my first time seeing him in a more acoustic setting. Was I in the mood for an acoustic show after a few margaritas with my friend for dinner? No. But it was Andrew McMahon and I wasn’t going to miss it.
After getting through security, my friend and I claimed a spot in the already crowded venue. The stage was set up a bit like a living room. The backdrop had books painted on the walls and a couple of framed pictures. In the middle of the stage was a giant, beautiful black grand piano with random items strewn across the top. The setting was definitely intriguing. Sure, Andrew always has a piano with him whether an upright piano from his Something Corporate days or, more recently, his grand, but I was interested to see what was up with the living room set up.
Within no time, Andrew McMahon walked through the door that was part of the backdrop with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” blasting through the speakers. The smile crept across my face as Andrew draped his jacket on the coat rack next to the door, swapped it out for a red cardigan, and changed his shoes. Instantly the backdrop made sense and I was so excited to see what friends would show up and what shenanigans would happen in Andrew McMahon’s neighborhood.
Andrew wasted no time and jumped right into his set. As much as I love his newest project ‘Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’, it’s no Something Corporate or Jack’s Mannequin for me but, within just a couple of songs, Andrew was playing songs that instantly transported me back to my childhood. Three songs in, he performed “Punk Rock Princess” which is clearly the soundtrack to my life– well mine and every other 28 year old female that dreamed of going to Warped Tour. Not going to lie, I teared up as I heard “If you could be my punk princess, I would be your garage band king! You can tell me how you just don’t fit in and how you’re gonna be something!” come through the speakers with nothing more than beautiful piano notes flying underneath the words.
I was hesitant when I saw that this show would be an acoustic show. I was afraid it would completely ruin the songs that I grew up worshiping but really, it just added a whole new level to the songs. Hearing songs with ‘Punk Rock Princess’ and ‘The Resolution’ as just vocals and piano actually worked perfectly. Being as amiable of a guy as Andrew is, there wasn’t a lack of energy to match the lack of instruments. Sure, it was a much more laid back atmosphere but there was still a sense of electricity radiating from the stage that only Andrew McMahon can make happen.
The crowd was clearly all on the same page and even though they seemed a bit hesitant when the set started, within just a couple of tunes the entire crowd was singing along as loud as they could. At times the voices from the audience masked that of Andrew but that was kind of the beauty of a show like this. It wasn’t just Andrew McMahon and his friends’ show, it was the audience’s show too. If you were there to relive your youth through the multiple Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin songs that played or if you were there to hear the newer material that has found it’s way into the mainstream– there was a song for you and there were words for you to sing along to. Last night’s show was more than just Andrew McMahon and friends on tour– it was Andrew McMahon and friends on tour with crowds across the country that have been impacted by this amazing musician.
Throughout the set, whether mid song or between songs, the doorbell would ring and we would be introduced to one of Andrew’s friends. Zac Clark and Bob Oxblood from Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness were not a huge surprise to me. That being said, both of them performing a couple of songs on their own was. I loved that Andrew used this platform to highlight his friends like Zac and Bob. Sure, they are essential members of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness but giving them a couple of songs on this tour helped make them so much more than that and truly give them their own names. Soul singer Allen Stone was the surprise for me (although had I read the flyer all the way through I would have noticed his name). He was a bit of an odd choice for this tour but it somehow worked and Allen’s voice added an element to this show that was completely different while still keeping with the immense sense of passion that Andrew and his other friends had.
As the final note rang out from the final song of the extensive over thirty song set, my friend and I left the venue and were greeted by the winter wonderland that was quickly forming around us (it may be mid-April but here in Minnesota that doesn’t seem to matter and we are due for about a foot of snow). We both had giant, cheesy smiles on our faces and, when outside the door, instantly started talking about how great it was to hear those songs from our childhood. Even though the roads were getting icy and I wasn’t super stoked on having to drive home, that smile didn’t leave my face. That’s the sign of an amazing show.