April 16, 2013
If those at the sold-out show went wild from the opening song "As You Sleep," it went batshit crazy when McMahon jumped on top of his piano before launching into "Mixed Tape," a fan favorite from his former band Jack's Mannequin. McMahon isn't known for making overly energetic music, but no one told the crowd that as they surged forward as he played "Holiday From Real," an up-tempo, feel-good song which caters to the kind of people who used to watch The OC.
Pianos tend to bring classical music and staid concert halls to mind, but McMahon channels a little Jerry Lee Lewis when he plays, refusing to sit still and pounding on the keys like they owe him money. It's apparent that performing brings out the beast in McMahon, and he repeatedly lost himself in whatever he was playing. The same can't be said for his band, though. Competent musicians all, they did little more than stand there, playing what they were supposed to and not much else. They reminded me of one of those creepy animatronic bands which used to play at birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese, fixed in their positions and playing what they're programmed to play.
The only break in the energy came when McMahon played a couple of songs from his upcoming EP, The Pop Underground, his first release under his own name. The rest of his set functioned as a sort of "greatest hits" from his work in Jack's Mannequin and his first band, Something Corporate. Regardless of the moniker they were recorded under, the songs all sound like they're coming from the same place, and McMahon never faltered in his delivery, whether he was playing his piano or jumping around the stage with a microphone.
The night came to a head as he played two of his best songs, "La La Lie" and "Konstantine." The former is a cheery anthem which brought the room together in a sing-along, while the latter is perhaps the best-loved song McMahon has ever written, and the audience hung onto every word. By the end of the night, it was apparent it wasn't McMahon's showmanship and talent that made the show, it was the emotion his fans put into it.