With no supporting acts, Something Corporate performed in New York City for the first time in more than five years on August 13. Power-pop and piano-rock has never sounded so sincere; frontman and chief songwriter Andrew McMahon’s stories with Something Corporate date back to his teenage years of heartache and heartbreak, and they’re told with a an unbridled passion. The California act’s discography exists in a just a tiny four year window (from 2000’s Ready…Break through 2003’s North), yet the band managed to create a fanbase to sell out the 3500-capacity Roseland without ever releasing a gold record or a top-charting radio single.
At 9PM, the quintet (Jack’s Mannequin’s Bobby Anderson joined the band’s four core members) began with the unmistakable opening notes of Leaving Through the Window‘s “I Woke Up in a Car”. “She Paints Me Blue” — a prequel of sorts to Jack’s Mannequin’s “Dark Blue” from McMahon’s 2005 album, Everything in Transit — sounded great. “Straw Dog”, one of the band’s oldest songs, received roaring applause during the song’s instantly recognizable introductory guitar licks. Rare cut “Watch the Sky” was one of the night’s highlights, McMahon swooning words of encouragement that seem to echo his own health struggles: “I will fight: you live the life you’re given with the storms outside”. Interestingly, the song was written years before the singer was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
For the first time on their month-long reunion tour, “Globes and Maps” made an unlikely appearance with McMahon admitting that he’d need the lyrics printed in front of him to perform the song correctly. The song sounded great, and the band followed with fan-favorite “Cavanaugh Park”. In addition to the McMahon-penned tunes that made up most of the band’s setlist, Something Corporate also tossed in quite a few songs written by guitarist Josh Partington including “Space”, “Fall”, “Only Ashes”, and “Hurricane”, the last being one of the band’s most popular cuts. The juvenile “If You C Jordan” had everyone in the crowd dancing and singing along, and it wrapped up the first part of the band’s setlist with McMahon dancing on top of his grand piano’s keyboard.
In contrast to the wild atmosphere of “If You C Jordan”, things slowed down to a sentimental crawl as McMahon performed the ten minute ballad “Konstantine” to start the band’s encore. First released ten years ago as a live-only hidden track on the band’s debut, the song has been a signature part of Something Corporate’s setlist their entire career. “Forget December” was undoubtedly the biggest surprise of an evening loaded with surprises, and the Christmas-themed cut sounded great. “Punk Rock Princess” went last, possibly closing the book on the last New York City performance by Something Corporate.
I Woke Up in a Car
She Paints Me Blue
21 and Invincible
Me and the Moon
Watch the Sky
Globes and Maps
I Want to Save You
If You C Jordan
Punk Rock Princess
Something Corporate has never sounded tighter or performed a stronger setlist; for nearly two hours, the band executed twenty-one well-picked songs with the kind of precision and passion rarely found on reunion tours; McMahon’s new project, Jack’s Mannequin, has unquestionably kept the frontman sharp. While McMahon does perform Something Corporate songs at Jack’s Mannequin shows from time to time, it’s hard to compare those brief moments to a full evening look into McMahon’s youngest years, from the beautiful “Konstantine” to the angsty “21 and Invincible”.
Photos by Kristen Pempek