With the majestic Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, the OC Parks Summer Concert Series continued Thursday, August 17th with a sunset performance by Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness. A perfect setup along the grassy hillside of Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point welcomed the singer/songwriter, who played a free hometown show for thousands of fans. McMahon calls Dana Point home and is a graduate of Dana Hills High School, located just a few miles from the beach venue.
A perfectly comfortable summer evening combined with food trucks, a beer tent, the ocean and a major headlining act made this a true family event. All ages were represented with many finding room on the hillside with blankets and lawn chairs, a pit area was created in front of the stage for those that wanted a true front row experience. McMahon took the stage promptly at 7pm and immediately impressed the crowd with his piano and vocal skills on “Fire Escape”, the lead single off of his Zombies On Broadway album which was released this past February. This would be just the start of an energetic, super fun set that without doubt impressed those that may have been unfamiliar with this local talent. McMahon was also the lead singer of two now ‘retired’ bands – Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, he would later play songs from each of his old acts.
His music, a staple on alternative radio stations, is a crafty mix of both college indie rock and mainstream alt rock. Calling it the “realization of my most vivid childhood dream”, he recently finished opening for Billy Joel at two of his stadium shows (Green Bay & Cleveland). Jumping around the stage and off drum kit and his piano numerous times throughout the night, McMahon’s enthusiasm and spirit is overly infectious. He also incorporated many of the same elements that have become common on his touring show, releasing numerous inflatable beach balls in the crowd and taking a spin in the small pit by the stage on his blow-up rubber duck halfway through his set.
McMahon shared that he jumped at the opportunity to play this free show, mainly because the venue was literally in his backyard and at a beach which he professed was where he would ditch class to hang with friends.
Midway through his 16 song set much of the crowd’s attention was diverted briefly to a spectacular sunset, which occurred just over the stage left. “Island Radio” and “So Close” (which is his latest single) were noticeable highlights from the 60 minute set. Old school McMahon fans were treated with three Jack’s Mannequin songs including “Dark Blue”, “Swim” and “La La Lie”. The evening closed out with his biggest hit to date “Cecilia and the Satellite”, which cracked the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2014.
He has been a staple on the festival circuit this year, performing at the Hangout Fest (Gulf Shores, AL), Summerfest (Milwaukee), Lollapalooza (Chicago) & Panorama (NYC). Local SoCal fans can catch him next month at the High & Low Festival in San Bernardino on September 9th. Beyond that he still has a solid festival run to go this year with an appearance at the Life Is Beautiful fest in Downtown Las Vegas in late September, 2 weeks at Austin City Limits in October and the Voodoo Experience in New Orleans just before Halloween.
Setlist: Fire Escape | Canyon Moon | Walking In My Sleep | High Dive | Dead Man’s Dollar | Island Radio | Dark Blue | Don’t Speak For Me (True) | Shot Out Of A Cannon | Halls | So Close | I Woke Up In A Car | Synestheisa Encore: Swim | La La Lie | Cecilia and the Satellite