What might otherwise have been a sleepy weeknight at In The Venue saw a frenzied, Friday-like crowd. Fans packed the floor and those in the balcony strained on tiptoes for a view of Jack’s Mannequin, who rocked the Salt Lake City hot spot Tuesday night.
After two strong opening acts, the audience exploded as the headliners crossed the stage to kick off a performance that was sure to satisfy the most fervent fans and casual listeners alike. Jack’s Mannequin’s pianist and lead singer Andrew McMahon started the band as a side project to his successful rock band, Something Corporate. After two successful albums, it’s clear that this is now McMahon’s main band.
McMahon was in sync fronting a strong backing band, including fellow California natives Bobby Anderson on guitar, bassist Jonathan Sullivan, and drummer Jay McMillan. The band performed a strong set of songs from both albums, hinted at the direction that an expected third Jack’s Mannequin release will take, and threw in a faithful and fervent cover of U2’s New Year’s Day. The group moves strongly behind the passionate vocals and killer keyboard-playing of leader McMahon. However, the cancer survivor is more than a mere musician, and his commanding stage presence truly helps them stand out from the pack.
Opener Vedera helped kick off a memorable evening for concertgoers. Front woman Kristen May’s power vocals belted out poignant and cutting lyrics atop of mesmerizing melodies, leaving the late arrivals wishing they’d seen the whole set. The band has built a strong grassroots following off of their tireless touring, and their performance showed that they’re no newcomers to the stage. They seamlessly combine an indie-rock mentality with pop flourishes, like the other bands on the similar minded bill, as well as influences such as Copeland and Acceptance.
Fun had a tough act to follow, but the crowd was more than willing to give them a chance. This New York-based band gave their all but perhaps failed to live up to their moniker. Coming off like a modern, MOR pop-rock outfit, but without the imagination and charm of influences like Elton John. A little too generic, the middle band on the bill was ignored and quickly forgotten like so many middle children. By the end of their set, fans were more than ready for Jack’s Mannequin to give them the performance that brought so many into the standing room only venue that night.
They were worth the wait.