Students take ‘holiday from real’ at concert

Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin brought a bit of Southern California to the College stage. (Tim Lee / Staff Photographer)

In keeping with its ongoing theme of pop-punk, high school throwbacks, the College Union Board welcomed Jack’s Mannequin and Secondhand Serenade to the Kendall Hall Main Stage for the annual Fall Concert on Friday, Nov. 18.

Andrew McMahon, formally of Something Corporate and now the creative force behind Jack’s Mannequin, was a bundle of energy wrapped up in a plaid shirt. Despite being the pianist for the group, he didn’t let his instrument confine him to one portion of the stage. Instead, throughout his set McMahon danced around the stage, climbed on top of his piano and even made his way into the crowd.

Although the band is currently promoting its newest album, “People and Things,” its members still made sure to throw in some old favorites. Standouts included “Holiday from Real” and “The Resolution.” During “Swim,” the rest of the band went offstage, leaving McMahon alone to serenade the temporarily mellow and seated crowd.

The crowd didn’t remain seated for long, however. Jack’s Mannequin ended the sold-out show with two old reliables from its debut album “Everything in Transit.” “Dark Blue” and “La La Lie” had audience members on their feet and singing along in an attempt to match McMahon’s infectious energy.

Despite his return from Japan the night before the concert, it was impossible to find any sign of jet lag in McMahon’s performance. This could be credited to a little liquid energy: The band admitted to stopping by Slocum’s before the show, going so far as to make up a rap in honor of the local Ewing bar.

John Vesely of Secondhand Serenade uses his music as a form of therapy. (Tim Lee / Staff Photographer)

Secondhand Serenade opened the show in a blaze of skinny jeans and V-neck T-shirts, a palatable feeling of teen angst in the air.

“Welcome to the party, people!” lead singer John Vesely called to students, some of whom were still filing into the theatre at the beginning of the set. Although Secondhand Serenade began originally as a solo acoustic venture by Vesely, he was backed by a full band.

Vesely did his best to get the audience out of their seats and into the music.

“Feel free to stand up and stuff, ’cause this is a concert,” he reminded them.

The band played hits such as “You and I,” a cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” and the acoustic “Vulnerable.”

During “Vulnerable,” students returned to their seats, apparently associating acoustic music with sitting. Vesely watched the mass movement with a slightly confused look on his face, only to see them stand once again after the end of the song.

The biggest response from the crowd came when the band played “Fall For You,” a radio single familiar to fans and new listeners alike.

This song, a ballad from a lovesick singer to the object of his affection, seemed fairly representative of Secondhand Serenade’s music.

When asked in an interview whether it was difficult for him to write and sing about personal subjects, Vesely replied, “No. I mean, the way I see it, it’s always kind of been like a free form of therapy… Everybody likes to forget about all their problems and sing in their car. I just sing about my problems and sing them as loud as I can, and I’m good.”

Vesely has also acted as a producer for some of his music. The added level of control, however, is both a blessing and a curse for him. “I will say that it’s really difficult when you don’t have other opinions circulating through the room, because you second guess everything you do. And it’s hard to ever feel like you’re done,” he said in an interview. “If I’m working on a song, I could keep on thinking that I would have more to add or want to change something, but eventually, you just have to say, ‘This is how it is.’”