Photographs by Randall Vasquez.
For almost two decades Andrew McMahon has been entertaining and inspiring fans with his music. There are very few artists that I have seen more than a handful of times and Andrew is one of them. He has a truly unique and special way about him, every tour is different yet the passion for his fans and the music stays the same.
On Tuesday evening hundreds of fans packed the Opera House in the hopes of a truly remarkable night. The first band to take the stage was Night Riots; the Southern California punk-rock band who played an impressive opening set. Under the various lighting effects that illuminated the stage, lead vocalist Travis Hawley had incredible stage presence getting the crowd loose and ready for the night ahead.
Going into the show I was really pumped to see Atlas Genius perform for the first time. The alternative rock band from Adelaide, Australia was beyond excited to be in Toronto. They thanked the city for the “warm” weather and gave a special shout out to Canadian Customs for even letting them in the country. This hilarious story led perfectly into their song “Where I Belong” from their second album studio album Inanimate Objects.
Lead vocalist Keith Jeffery has an engaging stage presence throughout their set he visited the front row of fans clinging to the barrier between the stage, to the delight of one and all. One of the best parts of the night is when Keith told everyone to get as low to the ground as possible, so they could get enough spring in their step to jump extremely high. From the balcony of the Opera House it was hilarious watching everyone follow the bands request, mostly because if they did not squat down everyone would recognize it. Atlas Genius closed their set with “Trojans” which proved to definitely be a crowd fan favourite.
The crowd was electric as the stage crew revealed the piano that had been hidden in the background and pushed it forward. Every fan was shoulder to shoulder in an uncomfortable yet amazing way. For those filing into the show late, it was impossible to move about the ground floor of the Opera House the show was about to really get under way. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness blew the roof of the Opera House with “Fire Escape” which was the first single off their second album Zombies on Broadway. From the second Andrew started singing the crowd was right there with him, belting his lyrics out at the top of their lungs
One of the best parts about Andrew is the fact that he has been a singer/songwriter for almost two decades; with the anticipation of waiting for him to reveal what songs he will pull out of the archive. Each city is treated to different songs, but they all generate the same nostalgic reaction. “Dark Blue”, “Holiday From Real”, “Swim”, and “La La Lie” were pulled out for Jack’s Mannequin fans. While those who have been fans since the beginning of Something Cooperate, were treated with much delight to “I Woke Up In A Car”.
In the middle of the set, a member of the Wilderness stage crew brought out an inflatable rubber ducky. Andrew told all the fans that he was about to get in it, so they better keep him from falling. The entire floor moved closer together (if that was possible) and lifted their arms into the air to help Andrew crowd surf. He didn’t go “too” far on his first attempt, but the inflatable would make its triumphant return later on.
While the rubber ducky inflatable was extremely cool, I don’t think anyone was prepared for what McMahon intro’d next. He talked about how with each show and each tour he pours his heart and soul into how everything is going to look, and feel. He hopes that for the time you spend with him you immediately forget what is on the other side of the venue walls and become lost in the music. He wanted to bring everyone back to a time when they were a kid, playing with a parachute in gym class. Immediately after introducing “Synesthesia” from his EP The Pop Underground, a parachute started to get passed all the way back. With arms stretched to the sky, hundreds of fans kept this parachute up in the air. What startled me was everyone kept getting closer and closer to the center of the parachute; and that’s because Andrew had made his way to sing amongst his fans. It was the perfect way to end the show (there was still an encore don’t worry). The fans were NOT ready to let Andrew go, as their exuberant and rather piercing screams echoed within the walls of the Opera House.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness returned for their encore performance, which was a mixture of new and old for fans alike. He let us know how much he loved performing in Toronto because of crowds like this night. He was really adamant about seeing everyone one last time so he got in his rubber ducky again and rode above the crowd high-fiving and thanking everyone. What was really impressive was that he managed to high-five those on the first row of the balcony, and the fact that the crowd helped him under the low ceilings so he could cruise around the venue making sure to see everyone.
It was truly a night that Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness fans will be thinking about for quite a long time.