By Katy Wilkie
November 17, 2014
Andrew McMahon put on an intimate and indelible show on November 16 at Visulite Theatre. The mastermind behind the early 2000s pop-punk band Something Corporate, as well as the piano-rock band Jack’s Mannequin, brought his new outfit Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness to Charlotte. This is the first time in his 15-year career that McMahon has toured under his own name. Fans of all three acts were treated with a setlist consisting of songs spanning McMahon’s entire discography.
McMahon was joined on stage by former Jack’s Mannequin bandmates Mikey Wagner on bass and Jay McMillan on drums, along with Zac Clark on keys. The band kicked off the show with “High Dive” from Wilderness’ self-titled album, which was released October 14. The song was even more powerful live than on the album, with McMahon’s vocals highlighting his incredible range right from the start. He immediately transitioned into Jack’s Mannequin fan-favorite “Dark Blue,” which had the crowd acting as a choir behind McMahon’s lead as they harmoniously sang out “Dark blue, dark blue / Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?” From there, McMahon transitioned into “Watch The Sky,” another fan-favorite from his Something Corporate days. The show continued on in th, transitioning from one musical project to the next throughout the set.
The audience sang along emphatically to each and every song McMahon & co. offered up, whether it was from the Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin or Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness era. At times, the crowd even sang louder than McMahon himself. There was a brief lapse in audience’s hypnosis when a rogue stage diver jumped onto an unsuspecting group of show-goers. But the moment passed as security gave him the boot, and the show continued on, with McMahon on the piano and the crowd accompanying him as his backup singers.
McMahon’s music reflects many of the intimate moments of his life and throughout the night he weaved in the stories that inspired the music, giving fans an understanding of the moments that inspired the music and a closer look at the mind behind the lyrics. He told the story behind the song “See Her On the Weekend” from the new album; it was written about being away in a cabin writing for the new record and going home on the weekends to be with his pregnant wife. He spoke of how it felt to separate his writing and his life, as well as his responsibilities as a musician and father-to-be. As he played these songs for the fans, his energy and passion was nothing short of infectious.
The evening closed with the upbeat “La La Lie,” a harmonica-driven crowd from Jack’s Mannequin debut Everything in Transit. McMahon was joined on stage by the members of opening band Hunter Hunted who were dressed up as Power Rangers. McMahon catered to the crowd, shortly abandoning the piano to to visit each side of the stage before climbing on top of the piano as the crowd sang “I’ve got friends who la la lie.” The crowd stayed put as the stage cleared out, and everyone clapped and screamed until the encore performance started. Wilderness’ encore featured “Halls,” “I Woke Up in a Car” and “Synesthesia.” All in all, the band played over 20 songs and lasted just over an hour and a half, but with the energy of the room and Andrew McMahon’s captivating stage presence, it flew by in what felt like just minutes.
Listen to Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness