Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness Took the Crowd on a "Blue Vacation" at House of Blues

February 26, 2019 | By Sanya Mittal

The cold Boston wind couldn’t be felt inside House of Blues on the night of Feb. 19, as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness had the entire room feeling like it was summer. The length of McMahon’s music career could revealed by looking at the range of generations in the audience, some who have been listening since he was in Something Corporate, the band he started in high school, and others who have only begun to listen to the music produced under the band Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.


Photo Courtesy of Brendan Walter

Grizfolk kicked off the show with their alternative-rock style. Their singles, including “Bob Marley,” “Troublemaker,” and “Spoonful,” had the audience clapping and swaying along to the beat. Following Grizfolk, indie-pop band flor took the stage, capturing the audience with some of their high energy hits, such as “back again” and “get behind this.” 

The audience was full of eager fans as the stage was being set for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. A yellow and white beach umbrella was left open over the drums, and small plastic palm trees stood in the background of the stage, mimicking a scene from a pool party. The lights came on and the group opened with their single “Everything Must Go,” the song beginning without the lead singer on stage. However, Andrew McMahon soon joined his band, playing on a grand piano as he emerged from a box onstage that had slits in it, so the light inside it could flood out into the room. They then played their hit “High Dive,” McMahon filling the room with energy as he danced across the stage. The band then took a step back into the past and played the song “The Mixed Tape,” which McMahon wrote when he was in the band Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon introduced the next song, “Ohio,” as being the start of their most recent album “Upside Down Flowers.” They then played “Love and Great Buildings,” a song off their second album, “Zombies on Broadway,” and followed it by playing another Jack’s Mannequin song, “Holiday from Real.” McMahon then paused to speak to the audience, urging them to think of a special person in their lives that would pick up the phone for them at 3 a.m. as he performed the next song, “House in the Trees.” 

The next song transported the audience into the ocean, as McMahon shouted, “We’re bringing the water to you!” and a blue cloth was tossed over the audience. The cloth was passed back and the crowd had their flashlights on underneath the tarp, as the band played “Island Radio.” McMahon walked through the crowd on the ground floor, before running back onto the stage and hopping on top of the piano to finish the song. The night took a more somber tone next, as McMahon played “This Wild Ride,” an emotional song dedicated to his late grandmother.

The band then threw it back even further and played a few songs from McMahon’s high school band, Something Corporate. They played three of their old songs, “Punk Rock Princess,” “Me and the Moon,” and “I Woke Up In A Car.” Fans in the audience, both young and old, danced along to the rock hits. The band then played more songs off their newest album, including “Blue Vacation,” “Paper Rain,” and “Penelope.” The stage lights started to flash blue as the band played “Dark Blue,” another Jack’s Mannequin song. McMahon introduced the next song, “Walking in My Sleep,” by explaining it was meant to capture the feeling of running toward something you know you can’t reach.

The group then slowed things down with a cover of “Believe” by Cher, before playing their singles “So Close” and “Teenage Rock Stars.” They had the whole room dancing as they ended the set with “Fire Escape.“ As soon as the band walked off stage, the audience called for an encore. The band returned quickly, and McMahon thanked the crowd for being there and allowing him to do what he loves. He spoke of the Dear Jack Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending adolescent cancer, an issue he holds close to his heart given his past battle with leukemia. The band played two more Jack’s Mannequin songs, an emotional acoustic cover of “Resolution,” and the love song “Made For Each Other/You Can Breathe.” 

The stage crew then brought out a large sun-shaped swimming pool float, and McMahon rode on the sun as the crowd carried him to the bar where he took a shot of tequila, as the band played their opening song, “Everything Must Go” again. McMahon then rejoined his band on stage, where he and his bandmates closed off the night with their hit “Cecilia and the Satellite.” McMahon thanked Boston one more time before walking off stage, the band’s performance leaving everyone in the room feeling like summer was just around the corner.