Andrew McMahon Inspires Hope at Sold Out 9:30 Club Show

By Emily Vitek / February 19, 2019
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Not many people can say they attended a pool party in the middle of winter in DC, but thanks to Andrew McMahon, fans at the 9:30 Club can now cross that off their bucket list. With the stage decorated in large flowers and beach imagery, the 9:30 Club was transformed into an exclusive summer party where fans were the special guests. Complete with rubber ducks and a blue cloth “sea” that covered the general admission area, the pool party themed show was a part of the McMahon’s “Upside Down Flowers Tour”. Currently performing as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, the tour is in support of their latest album, Upside Down Flowers. The album, released November 2018, is the third studio album for AMITW and follows their 2017 release, Zombies on Broadway.

Also known for his previous bands, Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon has been performing since he was nine years old. While many of the evening’s performances were from Upside Down Flowers, McMahon pleased fans by bringing back a few fan favorites from his earlier bands.  Opening the set with “Everything Must Go”, the last song off Upside Down Flowers, McMahon was initially hidden while his band mates took their places on stage. Midway through the song, McMahon emerged from the shadows on his piano singing about how trivial items are insignificant when you are surrounded by the ones you love.

“We are all kind of like upside down flowers; we are all beautiful and a little messed up.”

After playing “High Dive” off AMITW’s first album, McMahon brought back some major nostalgia with his Jack’s Mannequin hit “The Mixed Tape”. As soon as those first few guitar notes were played, the audience cheered in excitement as they recognized that famous song intro. With over 18 million plays on Spotify, the song gained popularity when it was featured in an episode of “One Tree Hill” back in 2006 shortly after the release of the album Everything in Transit.

Shortly after, McMahon introduced the song “Ohio” off of Upside Down Flowers by talking about his experience moving across the country as a child from Ohio to California. McMahon then explained the meaning behind the title Upside Down Flowers, saying “We are all kind of like upside down flowers; we are all beautiful and a little messed up”. In attendance that evening was McMahon’s daughter Cecilia, who was celebrating her fifth birthday that evening. McMahon brought Cecilia on stage and sat her on the piano while serenading “Rainy Girl”, a song McMahon said he wrote for Cecilia before she was born.

Sometimes when I'm falling in my dreams
I can feel you falling next to me
I guess we're going everywhere together
Rainy girl

// "Rainy Girl"  by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Inspired by the emotions involved with losing a loved one, McMahon played “This Wild Ride”, and shared with the audience the story of his relationship with his grandmother and her passing shortly after the song was written. Next, he went back to his early days in Something Corporate and performed his hit “Punk Rock Princess”, a rock song about teenage love.

The nearly two-hour set contained more songs off of Upside Down Flowers including “Teenage Rockstars”, “Paper Rain”, “Blue Vacation”, and “Penelope”. Towards the end of the show, McMahon performed an emotional cover of Cher’s “Believe”. Other throwback songs such as “I Woke Up in a Car”, “Crashin”, and “Made for Each Other” were played as the set came to an end. During the encore, McMahon crowd surfed on a giant inflatable raft to bring the pool party to a close. He ended the night with AMITW’s most popular song “Cecilia and the Satellite”, named after his daughter.

Also performing that evening were LA rock band Grizfolk and the Oregon based indie band Flor. The “Upside Down Flowers Tour” continues until the end of March where they will head up the east coast before heading out west and ending in California. If you missed Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ 9:30 Club show, he will be coming back this way in June to perform at the Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware. Taking place June 21st-23rd, tickets to the festival can be purchased here.

The evening’s show partnered with Love Hope Strength, an organization founded to inform people about bone marrow donation and encourage them to add themselves to the donor list. On the same day McMahon finished recording the Jack’s Mannequin album Everything in Transit, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. McMahon was fortunately in the early stages of his leukemia and due to his sister being a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant, McMahon was able to make a full recovery. 

One year after his diagnosis, McMahon started the Dear Jack Foundation, a charity he founded as an effort to initiate change and provide a voice for the generations of young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer. As a result, fifty cents from every ticket sale on the “Upside Down Flowers Tour” is being donated to the Dear Jack Foundation to help improve quality of life and create positive health outcomes for patients and their families. Although McMahon was lucky to have an exact donor match in his family, he expressed that not everyone is able to find a match that easily. He encouraged the audience to consider signing up through Love Hope Strength, where they could add themselves to the donor registry with a cheek swap to match DNA. If you are interested in learning more about the Dear Jack Foundation or Love Hope Strength, check out the provided links.

Special thanks to DCMR member Dan Rozman who contributed information on Love Hope Strength for this article.




Click here to see the setlist for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness' performance at 9:30 Club on February 13th, 2019.

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About the author

Emily Vitek

Emily is DMV native originally from the Washington DC suburbs. Emily is a photographer, videographer, and writer who has been photographing shows in the DC/MD/VA area since 2011. She has a degree in Electronic Media & Film and currently works as a Production Coordinator at a video/animation studio in Bethesda, MD. Emily has also recently finished her Master's Degree in Management and Leadership. She is an avid Disney lover and used to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL as a photographer. When not at shows, Emily enjoys watching the latest horror flick on Netflix or playing video games.

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