The November 16 opening act was Zac Clark, who strutted out onstage in a stylish millennial pink getup, matching the floral decor on his keyboard which was adorned with a matching pink rotary phone centerpiece. Clark’s larger-than-life and authentic personality shone through as he serenaded the audience with songs like “Don’t Just Love Me ‘Cause You’re Lonely,” written about getting too drunk and making out with someone you went to high school with.
Following Clark’s set was Annika Bennett, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter out of Los Angeles whose angelic voice carried through her set focused on themes like existential dread, accidental sad songs, love and breakups. Alternating between an acoustic and electric guitar, Bennett was supported by her bandmate Charlie, who provided a mixture of electronic and acoustic background instrumentals. Songs like “Your World,” “Love Song,” and “Every Color of the Rainbow” navigated through the ups and downs of a tumultuous and emotional relationship.
Not soon after Bennett wrapped up her set, McMahon humbly took to the stage and gave a quick explainer of the ideas behind the set design. Fresh off releasing “Three Pianos: A Memoir,” the stage was aptly and simply set up with three pianos, with McMahon’s signature brown grand piano taking center stage. Behind his grand piano were three mirrors, which McMahon would later use as metaphors for the different stages of his life and career as a musician.
One mirror was meant to represent his life until he was 12 years old when his family packed up and moved out West, an experience that served as inspiration for his song “Ohio.” The song reflects his family’s intent to start a new life with the promise that “everything’s gonna be better on the west coast.”
The second mirror represented a quarter life crisis, as McMahon says, “I realized all of my friends were winning Grammys and I was not.” This experience would inspire “Synesthesia,” a song he sang with the cheeky reflection, “And my friends are in the news/Collecting trophies for the songs they wrote/When we lived in the shadow of the moon.”
The third mirror represented his time as a young adult helming the punk-rock band Something Corporate. Most importantly, he reflected that “this was a time when [he] was writing a song for the woman who would one day become [his] wife” before launching into a sentimental rendition of the love song ‘She Paints Me Blue.’”
The stripped down show, supported by Mikey Wagner and Morgan Paros, continued on with the signature piano-heavy hits McMahon has become famous for as frontman for Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, and most recently Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Crowd favorite songs like “I Woke Up in a Car,” “The Mixed Tape,” “High Dive,” and “Cecilia and the Satellite” made the theater shake with energy. To the crowd’s amusement, McMahon sang a snippet of his 9-and-a-half minute song “Konstantine” at the adamant request of one particularly enthusiastic audience member.
The concert wrapped up with the Jack’s Mannequin era song, “La La Lie,” in which he sang “I’ve got friends who (la la lie)/Will help me pull through (la la lie la la la lie)” with the help of Zac Clark on accordion and Annika Bennett on vocals.
The chorus of Jack’s Mannequin hit song, “Dark Blue,” asks: “Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?” I have related to these words since I was 12 years old, but hearing McMahon and the crowd sing these lyrics last night made me feel the complete opposite, filling me with nostalgia and making it an unforgettable Tuesday night.
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