Jack’s Mannequin on display in Southside

The night started with Daphne Loves Derby playing a pretty short set while people were still filtering in to Club Zoo. The next two warm-up bands, The Hush Sound and Copeland, played their respective sets with that one song most people knew. The Hush Sound definitely had the most energy out of the three, but all the while the not-so-hush sound of “I’m just here for Jack’s Mannequin” could be heard from the crowd.

Before I went to the concert, I’d heard from someone that Club Zoo wasn’t that great of a venue — they had the space but didn’t use it. I completely disagree. It is the best venue I’ve been to in Pittsburgh thus far. The main floor was packed with people, and only became more dense as the night went on. The other levels were lined with people that enjoyed being able to breathe and listen to music at the same time. Sure, not all spots yielded the best view; some rested nicely behind huge metal support beams. Nevertheless, the energy filled the entire club. Mr. Small’s, another local venue, would have to grow to “Mr. Big’s” to hold this many people.

I opted for the real concert experience in the giant mess of sweaty people, so I spent three sets of warm-up bands getting up to the front. I realize that this is usually looked down upon by those kids who get to the concert five hours early, but this crowd really got into it. Every few minutes there would be a huge surge, first forward, then backward, then more people forward, until no one could move anymore; all the while, people were dancing.
At 9:31 p.m., Andrew McMahon, Mannequin’s creator/pianist/singer, ran onto the stage. Words cannot possibly describe the energy and passion this man exudes. The crowd went nuts. All surfaces of the old warehouse were shaking, and McMahon started playing.

He started with two fan favorites: “Bruised” and “Kill the Messenger.” The first three songs, ending with “I’m Ready,” were an explosion of emotion that the whole crowd felt. McMahon didn’t stop moving and no one stopped listening. Whether you like his music or not, you can’t help but feel his love for what he does.

After “Miss Delaney,” an unreleased B-side track, and “Dark Blue,” “Holiday from Real” elicited a loud “Fuck yeah! We can live like this” from the crowd. Everyone joined in singing when McMahon paid homage to his roots with “Me and the Moon,” a song by Something Corporate (McMahon’s band before Jack’s Mannequin). Everyone joined in pretending to sing along when McMahon paid homages to his roots’ roots’ roots with his cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound.”

After a few more songs and a harmonica break, McMahon paused to tell the crowd that the proceeds from the concert were going to charity. Sadly, no one heard the name of the charity because the cheering was too loud. Shortly after, things quieted down while McMahon sang a song he wrote for his sister. It was a beautiful acoustic solo, written half before and half after McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia, and brought the emotion of the night to a crescendo.

“Made for Each Other” acted as the perfect closer for the night, just as it does on its album. McMahon had been playing an electric piano all this time, not quite as rugged as the upright he played in Something Corporate. One of his schticks in Corporate was to stand on the keys of the piano and play with his feet. When I saw this keyboard I thought it was sad that Andrew wouldn’t be able to do his piano dance, but he did it anyway. Never missing a beat, he kicked over his stool and hopped up onto the keyboard, playing a flurry of notes that somehow still fit with the song.

Sitting back down, with a final flourish on the piano, the lights turned out, and McMahon left the stage. That was it. The concert was over. The crowd shuffled out quietly, still high on that feeling Jack’s Mannequin left them.