Swim for the music that saves you

On November 15, we had the opportunity to see one of my absolute favourite singer-songwriters, Andrew McMahon.

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You may recall I’ve talked about Andrew a couple of times before. I saw him last November, and I’ve been listening to him in some form or another for the last seven or eight years. I’ve made it a point to see him every time he’s in town since 2010, so this was my fifth time.

We missed the opening act, Lolo, because we chose to have dessert at Factory Girl instead, but since I doubted she would play “Miss Jackson” or “Centuries”, I didn’t mind missing her twenty minute set.

The next band to go on was The Griswolds. I’ve never heard of them, but I really enjoyed them! They were a great blend of the headliners, New Politics and Andrew McMahon, plus they’re Australian! They played an excellent version of Vance Joy’s “Riptide” (I did not know that Vance Joy is also Australian, so that was cool). Check them out if you’re looking for something to bop around to.

New Politics was up next. I’ve seen them twice before (once as a headliner, then again as an opening band), so I was a little perplexed when they were announced as Andrew McMahon’s tourmates because they don’t really have the same vibe. While I’m still on the fence as to whether or not their music makes sense together, there’s no denying how much fun New Politics is, especially live. Since the last two times I’ve seen them, they’ve released another album – this year’s Vikings – so it was nice to hear newer songs. Of course, the highlight of their set was still “Harlem”, though Andrew McMahon bounding out on stage for “Girl Crush” was pretty epic too.

Finally, Andrew himself came out. Surprisingly, he started out slow with the ballad, “Rainy Girl”, but immediately picked it up with “Dark Blue”, one of my and Ro’s favourite Jack’s Mannequin songs.

The set was a good mix of his solo stuff (“Canyon Moon”, “Halls”, etc) and songs from his his earlier career: the classic “I Woke Up in a Car”, a mellower version of “Punk Rock Princess”, the always outstanding “La La Lie” (New Politics came out for part of the song, and it was clear that they were all enjoying themselves), one of my other faves, “Swim” (which he dedicated to my Light the Night team captain Laurel!), and even the less popular “Bloodshot”. And, of course, he closed the show with the double whammy of awesomeness: “Cecilia and the Satellite” and “Synesthesia”.

For some reason, the crowd seemed particularly rowdy, and a couple of people were even escorted out before the show ended. If you’re not familiar with Andrew McMahon, all you need to need is that he’s a laid-back California dude who sings songs about love and finding yourself. So having a heckler in the audience or spotting two drunk girls fighting another girl for a balloon (both of which happened!) isn’t something that’s normal at one of his shows. As upsetting as it is to see a performer get mad, I liked that he made a point to call out people who were being disruptive, and made sure they understood that he doesn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour, especially in light of recent tragic events. Why go to a show if you’re just going to ruin it for everyone else?

Boisterous people aside, it was a fantastic show that left me with a scratchy voice and a mild post-concert depression the next morning. I absolutely recommend Andrew McMahon – with about fifteen years of material, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

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