It was a cool, rainy evening for the concert-goers at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion on Wednesday, but the musical trifecta of Matt Nathanson, Gavin DeGraw and Andrew McMahon carried on anyway.
McMahon, lead vocalist for both Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, was first out of the gate.
It’s a little disappointing seeing such a great artist perform first on a line-up of three after being in the business for so many years, but his following is loyal, and my fingers are crossed that his day of becoming a headliner is in the near future.
McMahon finished his set with “I Woke Up in a Car” and “Synesthesia.”
DeGraw took the LC stage next on an elevated platform, wearing his token, beloved fedora (copies of which were also available for purchase over at the merchandise tent).
He played straight through four of his more popular songs, including “Leading Man” and “Chariot,” all while showing off some fairly suave little dance moves.
At the LC, all tickets are general admission, so spectators have the option of elbowing for a stage seat or settling for a lawn seat. The stage seating is for the more dedicated, rather aggressive fans who are not bothered by jabs to the ribs or the constant glare from iPhone screens. The lawn is more for the older and very young crowd.
I found a spot behind a mother and her two young daughters and in front of a quiet, older couple, who remained seated on the wet grass the whole night.
The lawn seating is also famous for what I like to call “20-something newly engaged couples.” These are the couples who wind up at the show because of the man’s obligation to please his woman. The girls get really drunk. The men sit awkwardly behind the girl and grin and bear it when she spins around to sing into his face with her $6-beer breath.
During DeGraw’s intro, he humored himself by apologizing, something along the lines of, “Sorry guys, this isn’t Metallica.” Kudos to him for recognizing and embracing the fan base his music attracts.
DeGraw then covered Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl,” and it got the crowd hyped. He followed that up with “Soldier” and “I’m in Love With a Girl,” which received less of a reaction than I was expecting.
The performance was pretty solid thus far, but the longer I watched him from up on the lawn, the more he began to look like Howie from “The Benchwarmers.”
“Finest Hour” was next, which is a groovy little tune pertaining to events that college students are all too familiar with. “Yeah, we got numbers but didn’t get their names,” and “shut down the bars, danced on top of cars” were two of the more relatable lyrics.
He finished off his set with “I Don’t Want To Be” and some subpar encore.
Nathanson took the stage wearing his tour T-shirt, which I thought was a little tacky. But “Kill the Lights” made up for his questionable attire.
Nathanson has a really good live voice. He played a second song then greeted the rain-soaked Columbus crowd with an “O-H!” He also took a moment to let the fans know that the “more you drink, the more we sound like Led Zeppelin.”
The band began strumming “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, and the handful of tweens in the audience went berserk. The 38-year-old ladies in the audience soon followed when Nathanson spun around and began to shake his little behind. He then made a dig at himself, telling the crowd to calm down, because this was one of only about two songs they were going to play that people know.
“Run,” which features country duo Sugarland in the official audio, was next. He delicately described the song as about “two people playing… one-on-one basketball… in a hotel room… for three days.”
The crowd was having a great time.
“All We Are” was next. He laid out the chorus of this one to the crowd and did something similar when he did a sing-along cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. These types of interactive shows allow the performers to feel more in tune with the crowd, and, on the other hand, allows members of the audience to feel included, even if they are not familiar with the songs being played.
“Kinks Shirt” was a fun little number about falling in love with strangers in everyday life, and Nathanson got his booty shaking to that one. The band then exited the stage, leaving Nathanson to perform an acoustic rendition of “Suspended.” He got the crowd involved, again, by giving them some melodies to sing, and it actually sounded really beautiful.
The band re-entered the stage to perform “Faster.”
The LC was drunk and excited for Nathanson’s grand finale.
“This is the part when we’d walk off the stage and wait for an encore, but we’d get there without having to leave. I think we’ve overcome that superficiality.”
I sighed in relief, because it was so refreshing for a band to just play their set and leave instead of exiting and returning just to bask in the glory of a predetermined encore.
Nathanson and his band signed off with a mash up of “Come on Get Higher” and the “Grease” song “You’re the One That I Want,” as well as a shout out to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
“That s—’s awesome.”