I woke up in a car.

Last night, my wife and I drove about an hour-and-a-half south to beautiful, boarded-up Poughkeepsie, NY to see a concert by Jack's Mannequin -- and so did approximately 1500 mascara plastering, low-rise wearing, effed-up-haired girls between the ages of 13 and 15.

Let's just say there was a shitload of this going on:

I have decided that if you ever have the urge to make yourself feel really old, the most effective way to accomplish this is to attend an 'all-ages' concert where the artist's fan-base consists primarily of girls in their early teens with pink hair and multiple piercings.

The doors opened at 7 pm and we got there about 6:45. The line was crazy -- it stretched all the way around the building for about two blocks. As we trudged to the back, I remarked to my wife about how there was a distinct lack of males standing in line. It had to be a one to 20 male to female ratio, easily. I leaned over and asked my wife, "Do you think it's possible that all these girls have a deep appreciation for brilliantly conceived, perfectly-structured pop songs performed by a young musical genius who has overcome tremendous adversity to practice his craft?"*

We immediately decided the answer was no, they mostly just wanted to dry-hump Andrew Mcmahon's leg.

My wife then said that I didn't stand out just because I was old; I stood out because I was the only one there who could grow a beard. I told Booby Mc-Booberson she could just shut it.

As we got closer to the door, we noticed that they were patting people down -- especially the guys. And not that cursory pat-down you normally get, where they run their hands down your sides and around your back and make you open your coat and turn around. There was major cuppage going on here, and you could see the bouncer thinking, "Car keys, cell phone, roll of life-savers, no wait - wow, that's a small penis.... ok, he's clean. Next."

Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, however for years I've carried a folding, clip-on pocket knife, and I rarely leave home without it. It's an automatic thing, like grabbing my car keys and my wallet, so of course I had it with me. I decided to chance it, since we were close enough to the car so that if they gave me a problem I could just run it back. So I unclipped it and slipped it into my front pocket, next to my roll of life-savers.

When we got to the door, the first bouncer checked our IDs (which was hilarious in and of itself) and gave us bracelets so we could drink, and the second bouncer who was doing the frisking took one look at me and just waved me in. Apparently, I'm now too old to be a threat to public safety, what with the osteoporosis and arthritis and what have you.

It was early, but I went to the almost completely empty bar and got a tanq and tonic for me and a coke for my wife, and then we decided where we wanted to stand for the next 5 hours. Most of the parents were up on the second level toward the back. We preferred to make them uncomfortable by standing with their children. We didn't get there early enough to get close to the stage, but we did manage to find some short 13 year olds to stand behind. One of them had a Canon digital camera that would have cost me a month's pay, but she had no clue how to use it. I tried taking a shot or two with my Blackberry but there should be a law against allowing them to call that POS a camera.

In writing this post, I was trying to figure out why he has the fan-base he does. Maybe because his other band is more So-Cal punk rock and he's been on a few festival tours and appeared on younger demographic TV shows like One Tree Hill. Still, other than at a very superficial level, his music doesn't really seem to match up with what's current and popular, at least to me. Even lyrically, the structure and content of the songs is not typical. He has much more in common with Ben Folds than he does with say, Good Charlotte. My wife thinks it might mean that today's youth are cultivating better taste in music and that there might be hope for the future, but I think it's just the whole leg-humping thing.

The show itself was amazing, and Andrew looks energetic and completely recovered. There was one thing I didn't count on, however. It seems that every little girl in the audience knew every word to every song. And they sang them. At top volume. Half the time, I couldn't hear Andrew himself singing because of the crowd. It was like a two-hour Sesame Street sing-a-long. Or a giant chorus of those tiny twin Asian chicks on the half-shell from the old Godzilla movies. Yeah, I know that's a reach, but anyone who has ever seen those creepy little broads will know exactly what I'm talking about. In other words, it was pretty fucking annoying.

A few of the highlights were some new songs from the upcoming CD -- which sound fantastic, by the way -- and an off-the-cuff acoustic version of "Woke up in Car" that he worked up right before the show. The song references Poughkeepsie, NY and he thought it a fitting song to play considering the club's location.

This is the first time in a while we've been to this club. The last time we were there, the "no-smoking in bars" law hadn't yet taken effect, and this club had always been notoriously smoky. If you didn't smoke, you might as well have taken it up because after spending 5 hours in this place, you'd have a 2 pack-a-day habit whether you knew it or not. This time around it was pretty cool. It was very odd to be able to watch a band without your lungs and eyes burning from the smoke. Granted, it was still incredibly hot in the room and there didn't seem to be much oxygen, but at least we didn't feel the need to burn our clothes when we left. Instead of smelling like a dirty ashtray, we just smelled like estrogen and bubble gum.

So even if you are old and dusty like me, I would still recommend seeing him live, with either Jack's Mannequin or Something Corporate. Bring your kids if you have them, borrow a neighbor's kid if you don't (tell them first) or just suck it up and go by yourself. It's definitely a show worth seeing.

Visit more punk-rock juvenile delinquents over at humor-blogs.com. One click is all it takes.

*go here to read about his fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia


  1. Evidently I am older than you because I haven't even heard of them. Ancient, I tell ya.

  2. i feel your pain here, man. my favorite band is also the favorite band of many angst ridden heavy eyeliner wearing (even if they have a penis) preteens and going to the show makes me feel like i should be wearing S.A.S. shoes and telling them all to use their library voices.

    however, i still have this strange need to stage dive before i die. even considering all the safety factors involved.

  3. Anonymous3:40 PM

    Back in the day, a Wed I think, when I used to go to concerts the air was thick with smoke and not all tabacco - if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

    Around here the concert hall was always non-smoking and of course pot is never legal but no one seemed to give a crap and I never saw anyone get hassled about it.

    In concerts I've gone to recently I've noticed that no one seems to be smoking anything. No tabacco, no pot, nothing. Why is that?

  4. Roll of life-savers. Love it.

  5. Do you like Neutral Milk Hotel? They have good lyrics and are sufficiently weird so as not to be too mainstream. The older I get the more I appreciate good lyrics. Some of the nonsense that passes for lyrics these days makes me want to hurl, even if the music is good.

    /*sigh* kids these days...
    //get off my lawn!

  6. I do like Neutral Milk Hotel, but I don't really consider them pop.

  7. Who? Off to do some research....

  8. Anonymous4:44 PM

    I'm going to my first real rock concert in years next week, so this post really struck a chord. I'm going to see an '80's band that is reuniting for a short tour (Big Dipper http://www.myspace.com/bigdipperband)--doubt if they'll draw much of the emo crowd. It will probably be a lot of people like me--a 20 year old brain stuck in a 40 something year old body. I won't miss the smoke--legal or otherwise. Moshing is certainly a possibility though!

  9. I recently went to a Linkin Park concert and it taught me 2 things; I am too old to be out until 2am on a Wednesday and I hate the people who enjoy frequenting concerts.

    I liked LP when I was in college but I haven't listened to them in years and now they are kind of college frat/jock cool and there's nothing I loathe more. Well, there are 2 people who listen to indie music, people who prefer it over what the music industry churns out (which I respect) and indie music snobs, who not only listen to it, and expound upon it non-stop; they poo poo all other music and anyone 'dumb' enough to listen to it. I grow weary of that.

    These days I listen to public radio and leave the music stations to the teenie boppers. WOW and I drive a Buick LeSabre - how's that for old?

  10. I can tell you why the young girls like him. He has a perfect smile and a cute nose. Seriously, watch his nose as he sings, specifically the profile, the tip of his nose twitches up and down. It is very hot.

  11. Don't let the lack of searchage get you down. Clearly the boncer was just a pedophile getting his kicks with all those underage girls. It is annoying when the audience sings along too loudly, but I always wondered if this pumped the artist up. Like, do they feel they've "made it" because all these people have obviously enjoyed their stuff?

  12. I had a similar experience several years ago watching Green Day at Wembley Arena in London. There were people my age there with their kids. But there was also a couple of crusty old rockers in the row behind us, so we felt a bit better about that.

    As for the knife, I've always found it strange the number of people who seem quite comfortable wandering the streets carrying a weapon. It seems to be more prevalent over there in the US, growing up in a country where it's illegal makes you think about it a bit differently.

  13. I've heard of this band and his other band, but never checked them out. I just read some of his blog posts. Wow. The guy can definitely write. And what a story he has to tell... Now I'm inspired to maybe do some iTunes searching and downloading. Thanks for the suggestion.

  14. codemonkey, that's so weird. A pocket knife is illegal in the UK? I don't even think of it as a weapon. More of a tool. Until 2001, they even let me fly with it. I use it constantly though, for everything from opening packages to cutting rope, etc. Really, it's less than 4 inches long, and not really very threatening. The knife. I'm talking about the knife.

  15. I'm with suz...never heard of this guy, or - for that matter - all of the other bands mentioned in this thread (okay, I've HEARD of Green Day).

    My two cents? Pop music's last deep breath was drawn with the demise of The Style Council.

  16. I carry a knife a lot of the time too and don't really think of it as a weapon-especially since a lot of my fellow countrymen are armed with firearms. We all know what happens when you bring a knife to a gun fight...

    I usually buy the cheaper ones though because I tend to lose them. I've lost a number of knives while fishing :(

  17. Upstate Broad8:30 PM

    JV - I'm with you on several points, especially the pocket knife. I grew up on Grandpa's farm near Buffalo, and I'm rarely without one. I was thinking exactly the same thing when I read codemonkey's post. Not weapon, tool.
    And as for shit that makes you feel old - my husband noticed recently that we don't get followed around by security in department stores anymore. We're an interracial couple, and for some reason that puckers their little sphincters right up, or at least it used to before we both started going a bit gray. The joke is, we both have law enforcement backgrounds. If things got hairy, we'd be the ones running to back them up.

  18. What does estrogen smell like?
    I'm guessing potpourri.

  19. Asians on the half shell.

    God, that was a reach back for me.

    I've gotta check out this music... I grew up Seventh Day Adventist where we couldn't have records, listen to the radio, or watch TV. I'm pretty sure I got permanently musically challenged because I'd smuggle a friend's radio into my closet and listen to the eighties top forty stuff... which is now my preferred music to listen to.

    I know I need help.

  20. "Every song at full volume."

    Yeah. Go see Jack Johnson this summer. And wear a ball cap so the jock frat boys don't give you the hairy eyeball of "the outsider."

  21. I listened to the tunes you have on the blog. Really like Something Corporate. Downloaded some from iTunes. Asked my daughter if she liked Something Corporate because she loves indie music. She said, "Who?" Hah! The old lady can finally recommend some music to her!

  22. I too am getting old. But much like the vampire Lestat I find myself a younger companion who can keep me connected with the current age.
    Lately i've been really into Polysics. Sort of a japanese devo type/pop/punk/techno-ish band with giant angry robots. You'd hate them.
    And JV, the only thing that makes us stand out as old, aside from the grey hair, is the complaining. Try not shaking your fist in the air and yelling "Young whipper snappers!" at people.

  23. Your blackberry takes pictures??? Fucker.

    But seriously, I had the exact same experience some years ago (OK, a really long time ago) at a 311 concert. Two friends and I had gone mainly to see Fishbone, the opening act. Both bands were awesome but I've never felt so old in my life. Thing is, I'm at least 10 years older now than I was then.


  24. 27 year old male and I love Jack's Mannequin and SC. And the reason why you will be seeing a lot more kids at concerts than usual is thanks to little thing called the internet, iTunes, and MySpace. Unfourtunatly the age of radio and its million dollar involvement with radio is done. Kids have tons of free time to find their own music and do. I consider it both good and bad, but go indie music!!

    and check out The Kooks if you like SC and JM

  25. S. Vincent, I realize HOW they're being exposed to SC and JM, I gues I just don't understand WHY they like it. And thanks for the tip. I'll definitely check that band out.

  26. Miss Lacey5:56 PM

    Hell, I went to a concert a few months ago and my friend and I were some of the oldest kids there.... and we're only 19.

    I do envy you for getting to see JM in concert though, I really want to.

  27. LAUREL10:30 PM

    Lol...you are an absolute scream! I feel like a veritable dinosaur. I haven't the faintest idea who you're talking about! Think Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Elvis, when you think of me! I hopped over here from Deuce Deuce's "An Angry American" milblog. I'll be a regular reader here from now on. LOVE your sense of humor! You could EASILY do standup! ; )

  28. Suz and Laurel are making me feel so much better :)

    I went to a Grateful Dead concert (who?) once. Yuppies brought their babies in strollers, hippies, (the original ones from the 60s) came with their tie-dyed shirts, older people who looked like respectable grandparents came... it was a wonderful mix of people. Didn't develop a crush on Jerry Garcia though.

  29. I've had the experience of being the oldest person in a club and the youngest in the same week. Even though I'm twenty, I was the oldest person at a skanky club in San Francisco, and by far the tallest. I left after an hour in spite of the exorbitant cover charge. Then, in Minneapolis a few days later, I was the youngest person at the Mike Doughty concert. Most of the crowd were Soul Coughing fans from back in the day.

  30. I can't remember the exact law regarding pocket knives in the UK, I'll have to ask one of my mates in the Met to get teh full story, I think there was a size limit and it mustn't be lockable, so your knife might technically be legal to carry in the UK.
    That said, I don't think I'd want to be stopped by the police carrying one, they do tend to take a dim view of that sort of thing. I see "knife" I think "weapon"... but then, since doing martial arts training years ago, I see alot of things that make me think "weapon", sticks, gravel, bricks, walls, small passers by...

  31. They're kids and they like to think they have their own niche and can bring something new to the lunch table. Plus, Jack's Mannequin is good! haha, give them some credit. I loved U2 when I was 8 and carried them as one of my favorite bands till this day, even through the backstreet boys and vanilla ice days.

    Plus, its poughkeepsie (PoVegas as I call it)....at 14, you either go to a concert at The Chance, or you can roam the streets for meth and stolen video games. Take your pick

  32. Apparently, you can do both.

  33. I'm dying to go to a Pearl Jam concert (never been to a concert before actually), but I've always thought I'd dislike the crowd. Guess we'll see. Of course, their crowd is a little older these days. Not exactly Pinkpop '92.

    And my father doesn't go anywhere without a sidearm. Usually a knife as well.

    On another note, I wonder what it's like being at a Keith Urban concert? Middle-aged women, anyone?


  34. Anonymous1:05 PM

    i think it's funny that your wife considered that today's youth are possibly cultivating better taste in music, and then you considered a whole other range of options, but you guys didn't consider that maybe your taste in music hasn't evolved with your age. i mean, come on ... i've seen something corporate on mtv several times, right up next to good charlotte. i don't find it at all shocking that there were so many teenie boppers at the show.

  35. Dude, you're gonna laugh when I tell you this. I've been listening to SC for years now and I had no idea Andrew went on to do his solo thing with JM. So this whole time I was wondering where the fuck SC went. I only recently found out about a month ago. I mean I never heard JM just heard about them. I blew 'em off as a new band not worth listening to 'cause the only people who talked about them were his fan base which you know. But then one day I heard a song by them and I'm like wait a minute, there you are SC. Anyway, I agree. His lyrics are way too good for 13 year old girls to understand.

  36. I went to see Modest Mouse in December and I vague feeling of ebign old but 2 VERY cool thing: no line for the bar and like you said no smoke. The only smoke was that created from machines on the stage ;-) As far as young people getting more sophisticated taste in music I will say one thing-the current ability to find new and independent artists via the web and I-Tunes, etc makes it MUCH easier for a band to get into the commercial marketplace. When I was growing up (and even into high school) the only way I found new music was the radio or hearing it at someone's house- like the way I "discovered" Led Zeppelin was hearing it being played on vinyl in my best friend's older brother's room and I kept thinking "what is that noise?", then I started to really like that noise ;-)

  37. Anonymous3:10 PM

    ok, so i'm reading the comments, feeling a bit old, then I read s. vincents comment about loving U2 when he was 8...now i feel DAAAAAMN OLD! LOL!!!

    ~C.C IN ABQ

  38. Anonymous,

    Oh, I know that's true in some respects. But if you saw my ipod, you would laugh. It looks like it belongs to a raving lunatic. It's not that my musical taste hasn't evolved, it's just that there's a little corner called "guilty pleasures" that started way back in the 70's with the Rubinoos and the Raspberries (and even Utopia, Graham Parker and the Producers in the early 80s..remember Jack Green? Anyone?)so I'm still a sucker for a perfect pop tune. And JM is one band that hits that spot. I just find AM's lyrics and pop sensibilities to be at a higher level than most of what's out today. Not so much with SC, but still -- globes and maps is a fantastic song.

  39. I have been blog hopping this evening and found my way here because of your JC Penney catalog article. Just have to say kudos to your writing skills and love the humor you so liberally dispense. I will definately be back! Thanks for the laughs!


  40. Holy shit. I never heard of that group, either. The last time I really REALLY liked a group was probably when I was into the band Incubus.

    JV: I made my blog private recently because of some disturbing lurkers. If you (or anyone here) wants an invite, email me at:


  41. Oh man, now I have that "woke up in a car" song stuck in my head which reminds me of a day a few years back. I was hungover in the back seat while my friend's annoying cousin decided to play that song on repeat at least a dozen times.

  42. Hour and a half north of Poughkeepsie? That sounds more like Troy than the the Canadian border (I mean, um, not that there is anything wrong with Troy). With all your fun day-in-the life of a rural woodsman posts (and the Canadian border thing) I had imagined you lived on the north side of the park or something. Though I am not exactly sure how you would find a job involving computers there...

  43. I actually work in Albany -- so my wife drove down and we left a car there. I don't quite live on the canadian border. That's more of a joke based on the weather I get at my house. More like the Glens Falls area.

  44. My wife and I have played Magic:The Gathering on and off since the early 90's. Most MTG players look upon us (and especially her) as some sort of unimaginably Ancient Legendary Creatures.

    You get used to it.

    PS I had to press the "visually handicapped" button next to the secret word I have to type in to post this note, because the letters are seriously distorted today, and let me tell you: the audio version of a keyword is REALLLY CREEPY, especially if your wife is a forensic psychologist who tells you stories of audio hallucinations. FYI.

  45. PPS ITunes: "Balkan Beatbox," and "Farmer's Market" out of Norway.

    It might help to know I grew up on the last wave of Big Band music in the 60's and 70's, Chicago and Led Zeppelin, thanks to my two older brothers. ow I am broken and can't be fixed; a half-Russian woodwind player and amateur ethnomusicologist who finds the type of music referenced above to be sublime.

  46. i just saw this post and had to say that I am a very young Jacks and SoCo fan, though i have no piercings and my hair is natural. I like them, not only because Andrew is undeniably adorable, but because their music is interesting.

    I love well composed music and interesting lyrics that are more poetic than endlessly trite. His songs are intense and real; they are some of the best work of this age.

    Andrew has a true gift that even little tween girls can and should appreciate.

  47. ashley3:14 PM

    i have to agree with nicole. i was introduced to andrew's music (both soco and jack's mannequin) at the age of 14 by an older friend. i fell in love with the deep and poetic lyrics, not to mention the brilliantly composed pieces, instantly. it had nothing to do with trendiness; in fact i loved how different the sound was from anything else i'd listened to - plus this was even before JM starting getting all the publicity that drew in people my age. even now, three years later, soco and JM are still my two favorite bands.
    i do sympathize, however, with your annoyance at the "fangirls". my personal philosophy is: yes, andrew IS attractive, but if that's the main reason someone's coming to concerts, it doesn't matter. his musical genius is wasted on them anyway.

  48. Sorry -- I stumbled on your blog and now I'm leaving a pointless comment. My husband and I just had a similar JM experience in San Diego on Halloween. We are in our early 30s and I'm fairly certain we were at least twice the age of every else in attendance (besides parents). I became somewhat addicted to Something Corporate when they were first signed to Drive-Thru. My friend was in one of the original Drive-Thru bands and when he suggested that I listen to SC, I was hesitant because I thought they would be just another pop-punk band. I was clearly mistaken. Until now, I haven't had the opportunity to see either SC or JM. It was a great show even with all the teenagers screaming in our ears.

  49. shannon- i was at the concert in San Diego on
    Halloween celebrating my 16th birthday. i had five of my best friends with me and we had a blast. i loved being in the middle of everything. shouting out the words to every song (because everyone was singing along) and just getting so into the music.

    are beloved teacher had died the day before of cancer and as we stood listening to Andrew with my parents up above watching, i realized that that is truly what Andrew's music is about. it is about inspiration and hope and healing.

    afterwards we met him and gave him a bracelet that honored our teacher and told him his music inspired us. he is one of the nicest and most gracious people ever and his music can change the lives, which is something that people of any age can understand.

  50. Anonymous12:01 PM

    funny because im fifteen, i love jack's mannequin and i have a quite normal hair color, wear about an ounce of makeup, and have no urge to hump andrew. i like jack's mannequin for the music, the message, not the fame

  51. You guys give me hope for the future of music.

  52. ohh, wow. this is funny. andrew mcmahon is great, both jack's albums are great, but prepubescent girls, not so great. i used to be one, so i know from experience. haha, but nice blog post. i haven't had the chance to see him yet, but i'd obviously love to. even if swim was the only song he played, i'd go see them. haha

  53. Well, I am a 14 year old girl, but I have hardly seen any pictures of Andrew McMahon. For all I care, he could be the ugliest person on the planet, but I would know he really is the most brilliant person ever.

    I hate mainstream & the radio, because people only like music because everyone else likes it. I sincerely love Andrew & his gorgeous masterpieces & his inspiring lyrics. After hearing his compositions I want to learn to play the piano. He really has been through a lot to tell his tale & his story makes the music so much better. From his recent album, many of his songs speak of his battles with Leukemia.
    He really is a genius.