Andrew McMahon in Providence

This show is in the top five best shows I’ve ever been to. That was easy to start with, the ending was more difficult. We’ll get to that. 

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, the subject of my piece from last week, performed in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday night and it was a show. 

McMahon took advantage of a day-off from opening the Weezer/Panic at the Disco Summer Tour 2016 to perform in a location the main tour did not reach at the Fete Music Hall, somewhere Crowdsurf Central HAD reached before, as one can tell from multiple stickers planted throughout the venue. . 

The night started off with a line way around the block from the doors to the venue, people of all ages managed to sell the show out, even on a Monday night in a B-rate location. Along this walk around the block to the end of the line, I noticed the first of many features from McMahon’s production to the show, what is known as #amchalk on the sidewalk outside the music hall. AM Chalk is a show tradition started in 2012 by McMahon and has carried on since. 


With only one opening band, Civil Twilight from all the way in South Africa, McMahon took the stage by 9pm and it was well worth the wait from a 6:30pm door time that felt like forever in between. 

Right away, McMahon blew the roof off the place. Playing songs stretching from every corner of his catalog, including b-sides from his breakthrough group Something Corporate and fan favorites from Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon had a well deserved hour-and-a-half set that was nothing short of perfection. This was just the first difference between his set on Monday and his set from the rest of his summer tour. Being the opening band on such a massive tour, McMahon played an 18-song set on Monday, but usually only plays a 6-song set when opening for Panic! and Weezer. McMahon took advantage of his control of the stage. 

Known for a large production in his show, McMahon pulled out all the tricks he might not normally be able to as the opening band. From his rainbow parachute dance-party during the song Synesthesia, to closing the set with radio-hit Cecilia and the Satellite with a synced confetti explosion, and a new trick: surfing the audience on a raft sized rubber ducky. Yup, you heard that right. McMahon never seems to leave audience members unshocked by the end of the show. 

All in all, this was a fantastic performance; from all points of view. But there were two points I wanted to emphasize that made this show especially remarkable. And this was my obstacle in writing, which to end on. 


McMahon made a point during the show that really struck me. He said that his life, for surviving cancer, being so lucky as to be an entertainer, was a gift. But as well, this show was a gift to us all. At first, I was shocked he would talk so highly about himself. But I was quickly corrected when he finished saying: Shows like this are a gift because we all get to take a break from the outside world of horrors and hang out with like-minded people and sing songs that we all love. I agree with this with all of my being, and have felt this way for all the years that I have been going to shows. It helps me know I’m in good company when I know someone else feels the same way. Andrew McMahon is good company. 

Finally, the real reason this was a phenomenal show. I attended the show with my girlfriend, whom of which knows Andrew McMahon as her favorite artist. I’ve taken her to see him once already, but this time was even better. During one of McMahon’s particularly heart-wrenching songs, I noticed how she was genuinely smiling and singing with all her heart and I could tell this was a special moment she’ll never forget. And as I was singing myself, I looked around and saw the same emotions and reactions on countless other people. I don’t write this to tell plug for Andrew McMahon, I don’t write this to tell people to bring their girlfriends to an Andrew McMahon show to get some action. I write this because I have been the person ripping their heart out at a show damn nearly at tears, and everyone should be able to have that moment in their lifetime. On this night, it was Andrew McMahon that did that to a good number of people. If an artist can do that, there is no need to explain why they do their job or why they can stay relevant for years and years. If you would, if you can, go see Andrew McMahon. Listen to his music. It won’t be a waste of time.