Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Jack's Mannequin @ the Paradise, 11/17

No one should feel guilty about listening to pop music, and nor should pop musicians be criticized for writing songs that appeal to a pre-teen crowd. Bands like Jack's Mannequin, Fun, and Treaty of Paris rock with familiar power riffs and melodic hooks that embed themselves in your ears for hours on end--for better or for worse. The material they put out may not be incredibly innovative, but these bands don't attempt to save the world.

Chicago's Treaty of Paris sang with the familiar voices of the post-emo era in their acoustic set at the Paradise Monday night. They play melodic-driven pop-punk in the usual sense of the genre, lamenting, "all I wanted was to be happy," again and again, as the 12-year-old girl accompanied by her mother next to me sang along.

Fun is the Nate Ruess's (of the Format) new band, formed with Andrew Dost (Anathallo), Jack Antonoff (Steel Train), and guests. The band has released only one song, "Benson Hedges," but that didn't stop Fun from playing a short but sensational acoustic set, complete with keyboard, xylophone, and electric violin. Although Nate Ruess's music is generally classified as standard pop, he is a musical genius. His intricate songs resemble symphonies full of astounding Queen-esque harmonies, creative musical arrangements, and a flawless sense of rhythm and rhyme.

Fun's songs are appropriately playful and upbeat, straying from Nate's last bitter work of art with the Format, Dog Problems. "At least I'm not as sad as I used to be," he sings, masterfully entertaining the young crowd and prompting round after round of semi-rhythmic clapping. Fun's first release will be available this February.

Minutes before Jack's Mannequin took the stage, the screaming had begun, evoking nostalgia for my N*Sync days. The volume increased exponentially when Andrew McMahon (formerly of Something Corporate) took the stage with vigor. McMahon slammed his piano with sincerity, full of energy to perform his irresistible pop-rock songs for an enthusiastic crowd. He writes from the viewpoint of a struggling idealist (e.g. every angsty teenager in America) so convincingly that he is able to deliver the spoken interlude of "I'm Ready" with earnest: "My life has become a boring pop song, and everyone's singing along."

If nothing else, Jack's Mannequin is endearing and personable all around, as showcased by McMahon's cheery disposition even after greeting fans outside for 45 minutes in the freezing cold after the show. How do I know? I will neither confirm nor deny fighting off the shivers to receive a hug from a man who wrote songs I'll forever associate with my adolescence. Appreciation for this music is impossible to maintain without a sense of humility. These musicians aren't too proud to cross into falsetto, and neither should you be too proud to let down your pride to sing along - at least for a night.

--Allison Francis

1 comment:

JP said...

sweeeet review allison :) i agree..

just one thing: andrew mcmahon actually DOES attempt to save the world, though not necessarily with his music (which i think you probably know about already). i talked to him at the woodie awards last week, where jack's mannequin won the 'good woodie' for the "Dear Jack Foundation." andrew established the foundation to raise money & awareness for cancer research, particularly in the 15-22 year old bracket