By Kristen Cloyed, Assistant Section Editor
The wooden floor of Sokol Auditorium quaked under dancing feet as Jack’s Mannequin took the stage June 20. Eager fans screamed and roared as front man Andrew McMahon stepped into the spotlight, sat down at his piano and spoke into the microphone.
“This is a night we’ll never forget,” he said.
He couldn’t have said it better. It felt more like an intimate gathering among hundreds of friends than a concert, probably because of the night’s intensity. Band and audience alike received a slight scare earlier in the evening when the house lights went up during opener Steel Train’s set.
“The sirens are going off,” said Steel Train singer Jack Antonoff, “and we need to get to the basement.”
Antonoff only kept his cool for a moment. Throwing his guitar down, he darted off the stage. Downstairs, I found him huddled in the back corner.
“They say to stand under a door in an earthquake,” said the New Jersey native. “Does it work for tornadoes?”
Jack’s Mannequin guitarist Bobby Anderson was less worried for his own safety.
“This is the first time this has ever happened to us,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be weird if we don’t get to play.”
But after about 15 minutes, calm ensued, and everyone was allowed back upstairs.
Jack’s Mannequin kicked off the night with a showcase of some older tunes, including “The Mixed Tape” and “Holiday from Real.” Audience attention never waned, even when McMahon’s piano suffered from technical difficulties. While the rest of the band told jokes and played chords, McMahon slid underneath his piano and remedied the problem.
The night continued with the inspirational “Swim.” The band’s latest single was met with a sea of hands reaching toward the ceiling. During “Bloodshot,” McMahon had the crowd moving with the beat. When his piano gave out again, the singer laughed and said it wouldn’t be the last time.
“Sometimes that’s all you can do,” he said, sliding out from under his Baldwin again. “You strap on a bomb and run with it.”
Fans crooned along with McMahon on slower tunes like “Rescued” and “Bruised” and stomped their feet to the upbeat “I’m Ready.” The band played three new songs, all of which were well received by the crowd.
Towards the end of the night, McMahon paused to thank the crowd for their patience.
“This one’s always been a love song, but tonight there’s a little extra love attached to it,” he said before launching into the catchy “Made for Each Other.”
Before leaving the stage, McMahon took the time to thank bands Steel Train and Lady Danville, who also opened the show. He then introduced his band: Anderson on guitar, Jay McMillan on drums and Mikey Wagner on bass. McMahon admitted Anderson and McMillan both had food poisoning from their stint in Colorado a few nights before, but their illnesses never affected the show. The band waved goodnight and left the stage, but reappeared minutes later amidst chants of “one more song.”
“This was a journey,” McMahon said with a smile. “We’re going to play a couple more.”
During the encore, McMahon and Anderson treated the crowd to a new acoustic song titled “Restless Dream.” The rest of the band joined them for “Dark Blue” and “La La Lie.” During the last song, McMahon had issues with his harmonica.
“Hang on, hang on,” he said, stopping the band. “If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right.”
He ended the night in style, stomping on his piano keys and flashing the crowd a crooked smile.