Barnard College's Monthly Magazine
By Christine Petrin
If there exists an ideal echelon of fame, then Jack’s Mannequin has found it. The California band fronted by lead singer Andrew McMahon can’t quite book Madison Square Garden, but he is able to consistently secure more intimate settings, like Irving Plaza, where he and his band performed to sold out crowds last week. This “perfect level of popularity” is quite possibly the peak of rock and roll entertainment. It begins with a still eager-to-please lead singer, and ends with a club filled with devoted fans.
Such was the scene last Wednesday night down in Union Square. Opening with “Bloodshot” from their second album, The Glass Passenger, McMahon started with a seemingly lesser-known song, only to find the entire audience singing and dancing along. The high energy was maintained with a mixture of fast paced music and McMahon’s passionate displays at the piano. His fingers flew across the keyboard at Mozart speed, and the thrill of performing even lifted him away from his bench, eventually powering him to the top of the piano where he more than once rocked out with the crowd before leaping back to the stage.
The set mostly included songs from the band’s first two albums—strange, considering they are currently on tour promoting their third and newest album People and Things, which online sales suggest has been received better by fans than McMahon’s sophomore slump. Of course, nothing beats the original Everything in Transit, released in 2005. This album’s status was received with particular fervor from the crowd with hits like “Dark Blue,” “Into the Airwaves,” and “The Mixed Tape.”
Although McMahon is an extremely lively performer, the night occasionally adopted a more serious note than your average rock concert. He more than once soberly expressed the gratitude he feels for his fans, and even brought up briefly his battle with Leukemia, a plight he rarely discusses with the public.
Despite these somber lulls, the night on the same euphoric note on which it began, demonstrating McMahon’s stamina as a performer, as well as the devotion of the crowd. A Jack’s Mannequin concert doesn’t belong in a massive concert hall; it feels right at home in these cozy clubs that enable the songs to come to life and the fans to experience the music firsthand.