Jack's Mannequin Debut New Material at Viper Room, West Hollywood

Andrew McMahon has never been busier. Something Corporate will reunite after a five-year hiatus to headline Bamboozle in March and the piano playing singer/songwriter who graduated from Dana Hills High School spent last week in the recording studio with his old band mates to record fresh material for a "best of" due out it late April/early May. Meanwhile, McMahon has a national tour with his primary focus, Jack's Mannequin, that kicks off today in Seattle. 

Jack's Mannequin, Feb. 2, at Viper Room, West Hollywood
Jack's Mannequin, Feb. 2, at Viper Room, West Hollywood
John Gilhooley

"I've been burning it at both ends so hard," McMahon said. "I've been doing tour rehearsals for Jack's [Mannequin], cutting tracks with Something Corporate, trying to sell my house! You know what I mean? It has been pretty hectic."

We sat down to interview and photograph McMahon Tuesday afternoon at Mates Studio in North Hollywood where Jack's Mannequin has a rehearsal space. To his publicist's surprise, McMahon informed him he would be playing a show that night at the Viper Room to prep for the upcoming tour.

"Welcome to band practice," McMahon told the crowd shortly after taking the stage right at 10:15 p.m. as planned. He had on the same outfit he wore to his OC Weekly photo shoot. His parents, wife, and Warner Bros. rep were all in attendance as well as diehard fans who managed to purchase tickets for the sold-show show announced via Jack's Mannequin's MySpace site that morning. At the door, a mob of people were dropping names trying to gain entrance. 

Guitarist Bobby Anderson grappled with a malfunctioning amp throughout the beginning of the show, affording McMahon a chance to deviate from the set list and debut a gorgeous new song that he performed solo on piano. "Hanging out on Laguna Beach this summer, this was the first song I wrote," he said. I didn't catch the title just lines about "10 days gone across the sea ... girl in a house in a tree."

Returning to the set list, the four-piece elated fans with "the Lights and the Buzz." "We've never played this live," McMahon said. "So we're going to be a little stiff--no pun intended." Despite the humorous intro, the performance proved haunting, with McMahon's voice teeming with a passion that overpowered the room in the most wonderful way. "The Lights and the Buzz" came out as an iTunes exclusive in 2005 and is reportedly the first song McMahon wrote after receiving a stem cell transplant from his sister to help him battle leukemia. 

Jack's Mannequin also performed "Diane, the Skyscraper" in concert fro the first time and rocked a killer rendition of U2's "New Year's Day" before closing the approximately 90-minute set by leading the audience through a sing along of "La La Lie," off the band's 2005 debut album Everything in Transit. Sure, there were plenty of false starts and equipment-fix stops, but McMahon led his band through a truly special evening that showed he's not only back to full strength but, at age 27, perhaps reaching his peak both as a songwriter and performer. 

My conversation with him after the show was limited to "Great job!" and "Thanks!" so I failed to catch the title of the new song he wrote on Laguna Beach that contains lyric about "10 days gone across the sea ... girl in a house in a tree." Here's the set list print out he handed me, exactly as it appeared:

2/2/10
West Hollywood, CA
Viper Room
Into The Airwaves
Crashin
Last Straw
Spinning
Lights and Buzz
I'm Ready
Brusied
Miss California
Lullaby
Holiday From Real
Mixed Tape
Skyscaper
Resolution
New Years Day
La La Lie

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