all photos: Emily Cohen
review by: Rachel Johnson
As I walked into the 9:30 Club, the opening act, Allen Stone, had just made their first appearance on stage. The lead singer, Allen wore a funky sweater and huge glasses. His hair was long and tangled, but the moment he started to sing, there was nothing more left standing onstage but the manifestation of an impressive R&B/Soul singer. His stunning voice was backed by four musicians playing drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards.
I had come to the show uninterested in any of the opening acts, but looking forward only to the main event, Jack’s Mannequin. I was wrong in doing so, and I had unknowingly walked into one of the best live performances I have ever heard from an opening band. I was deeply moved by how in love Allen was with the music he was making. His every move mimicked the bump of the bass and the rhythm of the band’s jazz. The band had a wonderful set, with songs like “Say So”, “What I’ve Seen”, “Runaway”, “Satisfaction” and a truly original Bob Marley tribute in light of his passing birthday. They did their own version of “Is This Love?” and the audience exploded in cheers of approval when they had finished. The harmony of Allen’s voice with his backup was incomparable to anything I have ever heard live before. If you are a fan of the R&B or Soul genres, and even if you aren’t, get ready to be amazed and inspired. Go listen: http://www.allenstone.com/
The next band, Jukebox the Ghost, was comprised of three musicians on keyboard, guitar, and drums. As they played their first song, I struggled to find a genre that completely described them. Alternative, pop, or indie? Whichever genre, they were a great group of fun-loving and successful guys. Although they originally started in Washington, D.C. I had never heard of them before. However, the crowd seemed to know every word to every song and enjoyed each moment. For only having three members, the music wasn’t lacking anything- it was perfectly balanced and whole.
The guitarist and pianist took turns singing each song. Their voices were pure and their music was upbeat. They played songs like, “Static”, “Hold It In”, “Empire”, and “Schizophrenia” (among others). My personal favorite was “So Let Us Create”. The ability to write lyrics that touch each person in a different, yet powerful way is a truly rare and special gift. Being so talented and upbeat, they are very reminiscent of the main attraction, Jack’s Mannequin. I was truly impressed while the crowd applauded and cheered graciously as Jukebox the Ghost exited the stage. If you like Of Montreal and/or Ben Folds, you’ll definitely like them. Check it out: http://jukeboxtheghost.com/site/
A crew of guys moved a grand piano into center-stage while the anxious and crazed fans grew louder and more impatient with every passing moment. Andrew McMahon, lead singer of Jack’s Mannequin, enters stage left, followed by his band, and jumps up onto his grand piano. They opened with a song from their second album (The Glass Passenger) called Bloodshot. During his first song, he jumped down from the stage and into the barricade to reach out to his fans and they screamed and stretched just to touch him. Andrew sits, finally, at his grand piano and plays a song called “Release Me” from their third album (People and Things). His voice sounded so impeccable live, that if he were not right in front of me, playing and singing each song with such diligence that I would have thought I was listening to pre-recorded tracks.
Jack’s Mannequin continued to play various songs from each album, like “Spinning”, “What Gets You Off”, “Bruised”, and “Television”. During each song, it was clear to see that Andrew sang with everything his body would allow, from the breath in his lungs to the beating heart in his chest. He played “Holiday From Real” and the disco ball hanging high in the room sparkled among the faces of singing fans. The band played “Rescued”, “Amy, I” and “Kill The Messenger”.
After these songs, Andrew sat down on the edge of the stage and sang a sweet, slow song called “Restless Dream”. His voice was so enchanting that I thought every single fan would just melt into nothing listening to his melodies. I was fearing that his set list would end soon, but he continued playing song after song. He announced his final song, “La La Lie” and played his harmonica. His musical ability literally gave me chills, and his inspirational battle against leukemia literally made me cry as he was singing. When band exited, the crowd was left with nothing but the intense desire for more music, and they shouted, pleading for more. Bounding back on stage, the band members resumed their places and picked up their instruments. “ALRIGHT, D.C. YOU MOTHER FUCKERS!!!!” Andrew screamed, “We’re going to take this moment of encore to play a little bit of everything.”
The first song of their encore was called “Swim”, followed by “Hey Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)”. At this point, Andrew called up the members of both Allen Stone and Jukebox the Ghost to assist him with his finale. The collaboration of all three bands was a cover of the song “Time of the Season” by The Zombies. The cover was tasteful and successfully executed as Andrew McMahon jumped onto his piano one last time and confetti was released onto the audience. If you don’t know the story behind Jack’s Mannequin, or Andrew McMahon, watch the documentary “Dear Jack”. There is something about Andrew’s charm, his voice, and his awe-inspiring story that touches every individual on a very different level. Learn more: http://www.jacksmannequin.com/
The show that I witnessed that night by far exceeded the expectations of everything that I had imagined it would be. I left the show with a feeling of great satisfaction and I look forward to the day that I get to experience each band on tour again. If you haven’t experienced the bliss from listening to any or all of these bands, you’re missing out. The talent I explained above cannot only be expressed with words- you have to hear it to believe it. Get listening!!