There’s never anything good about them. On Sunday night, 11.11.12, I said goodbye. I said goodbye to the band that was the one I always considered to be “mine.” Even though you can be obsessed with multiple bands, I feel like everyone can relate to having that one band. The one band that changed your life.
For me that band was Jack’s Mannequin. And I watched, front row, as Andrew McMahon played his last show with his Jack’s Mannequin bandmates in Los Angeles. It was the most powerful, emotional, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating show that I have been to in my entire life.
I woke up in a studio apartment off Hollywood Boulevard (belonging to strangers that soon became friends) at 4:45 on Sunday morning. I got dressed, did my hair and lined my bloodshot eyes in black. We piled into a car full of camping chairs, coolers, luggage and people and drove the nearly empty, dark streets of Hollywood. We were up before the sun.
We pulled right in front of El Rey Theater, unloaded our car and took our spot at the front of the line, 30 seconds more and we would have been a close second. I have never lined up for a show 12 hours before it started, but I have never been happier about sitting on a public street for that long.
We sheltered ourselves in blankets, held onto coffee cups as if they were our sole heat source and braced ourselves for the long day ahead. We watched the sun rise and fans slowly start to filter in as the morning settled in.
After a trip to Rite-Aid, my little started a chalk movement. At first, a shyness launched over the crowd. I laid the first scrapings of chalk on one square of the LA sidewalk, and soon the rest of the line followed. Everyone grabbed a piece of chalk and inscribed their favorite lyrics on the ground. Soon enough a mural was created, with barely any repeats. Artists emerged. Friends were made.
Fast forward to the afternoon, when a father from Texas and his twin daughters were chatting with us about unreleased versions of Jack’s Mannequin songs, and about having an empty nest with his daughters’ away in college, a silence fell over the crowd as Andrew McMahon stepped out of his car just feet away from the line. My heart started racing, and I got shaky. Being in the presence of someone you idolize has an incredible impact. I’ve met a lot of musicians that I admire, but I have never felt the emotions that I felt Sunday as Andrew McMahon approached me.
I thanked him for his music and how it brought me together with my best friends. We took a picture with him, and I asked him to write me out something that I will get tattooed on me. I was shaking as I held the notebook for him to write in, that I had to have someone else hold it.
As soon as he walked away, there were tears. He was the nicest person, and he was exactly like you think he would be. After following his story for years, you almost get a sense that you know a little bit of who he is, and I was truly humbled by his humbleness and love for the fans that love him.
I didn’t even care that after he went inside that I still had to wait anxiously outside for another four hours. Everything that brought me to that mid-Sunday afternoon moment was worth it. Absolutely and 100 percent worth it. I forgot that I was running on less than four hours asleep. I forgot that my hair felt greasy from lack of my morning shower. I forgot that this was the last time I would be seeing my favorite band play. I was just in shock – the happiest and most fulfilling shock.
I watched the sun set from the same chair that I saw the sun rise. And finally it was 6:30 and the marquee lights were dancing and glowing bright. My ticket was scanned and I was off to take my place in the front, dead center, right in front of the piano.
Over an hour later the red velvet curtains parted, and Andrew McMahon was sitting at his Baldwin wearing Chuck Taylor’s with his striped socks. The band started and ‘Holiday From Real’ met the crowd.
During the show my emotions went as such:
La La Lie – continuous uncontrollable sobbing. what a song choice… “guess what i’m done writing your songs…”
Once the curtains closed, I didn’t even try to stop the hot tears that were streaming down my cheeks. Instead, I looked around at my little and the people who were strangers just a day before and they were crying too. We embraced in a group hug. We had all just experienced the same emotional trauma, our hearts ripped out by the beautiful music of Jack’s Mannequin. We will forever be changed by that day.
And now, as I battle the post-mannequin depression I can only say thank you to Andrew McMahon. An artist never owes his fans anything, but Andrew gives them everything he has. I am looking forward to the next chapter in his music career, but until then the realization that Jack’s Mannequin will never release new music or host another show hurts like hell. Thank you Jack’s Mannequin for 7 years and three amazing albums.
But as Andrew sang before he took his final bow – “I’ve got friends who will help me pull through. “