August 24, 2010
@ The Warfield
Better than (but not quite): Listening to Something Corporate on your Walkman after a high school break-up and wishing you finally had your license so you could drive by your ex's house. Or at least so you could go buy a healing Coke slurpee from 7-Eleven.
It was a truly special night for fans who have listened to the Southern California band Something Corporate
since its first album, "Ready...Break," came out in 2000. The band, which has two additional albums under its belt, has not toured in about five years, yet its performance last night at the Warfield did not give that away. The twentysomething audience, a roughly equal ratio of boys and girls, was juiced and sang along to every song. Vocalist and pianist Andrew McMahon knew exactly which lyrics everyone came to belt out -- which lyrics we fans, five years ago, etched onto our Chuck Taylors and wrote as our AIM statuses -- and last night's loyal audience met him halfway.
The best moments of the night were when everyone came together for these indelible one- liners, such as the lyric from the song "Me and the Moon" that goes, "You marry a role and you give up your soul 'till you break down."
Because Something Corporate was big when most of us were 15 and went to the Warped Tour, there were bound to be emblematic breakouts in the mosh pit. During the fast-paced, upbeat song "Hurricane," those in crowd rocked out with hands in the air, pushed each other around, and even tolerated one girl who thought it'd be acceptable to crowdsurf.
A colorful light show accompanied the music -- fading in and out with the volume and pace of each song with similar effects as a computer visualizer -- but was distastefully overdone when it flashed a color mentioned in a song. For instance, the song "She Paints Me Blue" opened with a gauzy blue backdrop, and a lyric in the song "As You Sleep" that goes "watch the night sky fading red" was met with a red beam.
A few times, McMahon forgot that it's been several years since he last saw us, and said the kind of awkward things you'd say to make eager teenagers swoon. During the song "21 and Invincible," he screamed, "I'm so excited to get fucked up with you San Francisco," and after the show was over, he stood on his piano and threw a crumpled setlist to the audience.
But McMahon did wholly charm the audience with piano performances that are typified by his going ballistic. Anyone who has seen him perform knows it is part of his shtick to pound out the songs and dramatically get into them. This was a little overdone -- why exactly do you have to knock over your chair mid-song just to show us that you can play on one knee? -- but McMahon's nearly perfect voice and unbelievable piano skills were impressive enough to warrant forgiveness. He began one song with a jazzy instrumental solo that turned into the whimsical, childish ballad "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" -- a reminder that his talent can outlast the adolescent spirit of his music.
One of the most memorable songs of the night was a single from the band's first EP, "If U C Jordan," a song that essentially hates on some guy named Jordan. The audience knew every word to the song, chanting the line "Fuck you Jordan!" as if Jordan was "The Man" and this was the anthem of their generation.
Though the performance mostly revolved around McMahon -- who is also the vocal behemoth for his side project, Jack's Mannequin
-- the rest of the band did its part to put on an excellent show that sounded as good as its recordings, if not better. This was especially true during the haunting, atmospheric "Me and the Moon," and the rock-heavy "Only Ashes."
The night came to an end with the song "Punk Rock Princess" -- an excuse for the crowd to completely let go of any adult inhibitions. Everyone jumped up and down for the entire song, and the few who didn't must have felt very out of place (and likely had for the whole night). At least, they were made to feel extremely uncomfortable.
After the show, a dense line of people waited to buy shirts and paraphernalia, still caught in the euphoria of youth, hoping that a T-shirt would be enough to keep the adolescent fire alive past last night. But we became our age again as we stepped out of the Warfield, and who can really take you seriously when you're walking around with blue shorts that say, across the ass, "Punk Rock Princess"?
Personal bias: I'm one of those veteran Something Corporate fans who sang along to almost every word last night.
Random detail: The guitarist wore a shirt with the words "Not My President" next to a headshot of George Bush. That's true, dude; he's not. But it seemed like you were wearing it as an act of rebellion, making me wonder if you've been hanging out in a cave ever since McMahon left Something Corporate for Jacks Mannequin, and maybe haven't yet heard that we've gotten a new president. You might like him better.
For fans: McMahon played the romantic nine-minute ballad, "Konstantine." Many people in the audience recorded it on their cameras and cell phones, so you can find it on YouTube if you're just dying to watch it. (But I warn you, there were some sound quality issues during the song that produced frequencies no ear should have to hear).