Andrew McMahon brings a magical experience to Rapids Theatre


Bethany Clancy, Culture Editor

Andrew McMahon has been writing and performing music under different titles for well over twenty years now. Going from Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin and now playing under the name Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness, his music has aged well with all three of his projects.  Through all these years, he still makes sure to incorporate all of his former projects into his sets.

On February 16, he played to a nearly sold-out crowd at The Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, New York.

Opening the show was alternative rock (with a hint of folk) band Grizfolk. The band is based in Los Angeles but has Swedish roots. According to The Varsity, the band formed in Los Angeles when Swedish producers Fredrik Eriksson and Sebastian Fritze met singer-songwriter Adam Roth in 2012, who were joined by Brendan Willing James and Bill Delia later that year.  Initially, the group was called Griz Adams, but they quickly changed their name to Grizfolk after their demo for the song “The Struggle” went viral on the internet, “something that better reflected what’s supported us,” Fritze explained.

The band signed to Virgin Records in 2013 and has performed on Late Night with David Letterman and Conan O´Brien.  Their eight-song set had warmed up the crowd for Flor and headliner Andrew McMahon.

Flor is an indie-pop quartet featuring lead vocalist Zach Grace, guitarist McKinley Kitts, bassist Dylan Bauld and drummer Kyle Hill. The band is currently signed to Fueled by Ramen and released their first album under this label, “come’re hiding.” in 2017. Since then, the band has been gaining popularity with alternative music fans across the United States.

Finally, the stage had been set and fans were ready for Andrew McMahon. He had a pool party theme set up in promotion for his third release, “Upside Down Flowers.”

McMahon played a very emotional set for fans and performed for about two hours. As much as fans enjoy his new solo music, fans really love when he plays favorites from Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate. And if there’s one thing I learned after seeing McMahon multiple times over the years, I know that he aims to please.

He played favorites from Jack’s Mannequin including,  “The Mixed Tape,” “Dark Blue,” “Swim,” “Crashin,” “The Resolution,” and “Made For Each Other” parts 1 & 2, then Something Corporate hits, “Punk Rock Princess,” and “I Woke Up In A Car.” With this variety of a setlist, he even through the crowd for a fast one by covering Cher’s “Believe.”

McMahon is known for his antics throughout his set. At this show, he had run through the crowd with a blue tarp to get the “pool party” feel and then towards the end he had volunteers go into the crowd with large, fake flowers.

One of McMahon’s signature moves is crowdsurfing during his performances. He jumped onto a yellow raft in the shape of a flower and rode on top of the crowd, making it to the bar, and even ordering a tequila shot.

Although the set seems like all fun and games, McMahon makes a point to bring up why he is able to perform: a bone marrow transplant. Right before the release of Jack’s Mannequin first album, “Everything In Transit,” McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on June 1, 2005. There were times where he and his family were not sure if he was going to make it, but thanks to his sister Katie, he received a stem cell donation from her.

In July 2006, McMahon founded a non-profit charity, entitled The Dear Jack Foundation, to raise funds for cancer research. The organization’s primary beneficiaries are the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the regents of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Dear Jack foundation sets a table up at every Andrew McMahon concert, and because of this, they are able to find donors for those in need, saving thousands of lives.

Seeing Andrew McMahon perform and talk about his fight with cancer and talking about the impact of the Dear Jack Foundation, his concerts aren’t just a performance. It’s an experience.