There are certain artists that I will never miss when they come to a city near me. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen them, who they’re performing with, or if I have class. I will be there. Andrew McMahon is one of those artists because he always presents something new each time I see him. From his stage setup, to the setlist, to his opening acts (or even if he’s the one opening a show), there is always an aspect of the set that makes seeing him over and over again worth it. About 15 minutes before show time, he brought out his tour family to take a photo with the crowd that arrived early. Then, various nostalgic TV theme songs played during intermission, including Friends, Pink Panther, and Full House. 8 p.m. hit and the room went dark. This time around, McMahon opened his own show in a brilliant way: the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song began to play, and he emerged from stage left. He changed into a red sweater, sat down and changed his shoes, and grabbed his suitcase and plopped it down next to him when he sat down on the floor at his keyboard— just like Mr. Rogers himself. That’s when the living room backdrop fell into place and turned his acoustic set into a warm feeling.
On the floor sat a keyboard and a desk lamp. He sat down with his legs crossed, flicked on the lamp, and began performing “Love and Great Buildings.” He glared into fans eyes as they sang their hearts out, connecting with everyone that he possibly could. He wasted no time, and jumped right into Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate tracks, like “I’m Ready” and “Punk Rock Princess,” making the nearly sold out room swoon immediately. Zac Clark and Bob Oxblood joined McMahon a few minutes into the night to perform “High Dive” and “Bruised” before Oxblood performed solo for “Flowers on Time.” The lineup changes every other song made for a refreshing set that left audience members on their toes for what was to come. When the doorbell rang, it was time for a new friend of Andrew’s to enter the stage. The 30+ song setlist hit all points of people’s tastes, whether they were Jack’s Mannequin, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, or Something Corporate fans— but for those that love all three had the time of their lives. Allen Stone joined McMahon on stage eventually where he performed solo, as a duo with Clark, and as a quartet with McMahon, Clark, and Oxblood at different points through the night. Stone even appeared on the balcony for those watching the show from above, which painted smiles on everyone’s faces. The show may have been acoustic, but the McMahon tour family made sure to be as interactive as possible to make it just as fun as a sold out rock show. McMahon even entered the main floor to dance and sing with fans, twirling fans under his arm and greeting those around him. Whether he crowd surfs on a giant blow up duck or walks through the crowd, McMahon always finds a way to make his shows as memorable as possible. This show was incredible and different in so many ways, and everybody left the venue with a cheesy grin on their faces. Clearly, it was a great Friday night spent at the final night of the Pen & Piano Tour.