Wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, and sporting a new short dark spiky haircut, Andrew McMahon took the stage at Toad’s Place last Monday, accompanied by the rest of Something Corporate. Breaking into the first song, “Cavanaugh Park,” the audience began to sing along with McMahon, swaying to the music as McMahon wore his trademark smirk throughout the song, clearly enjoying this moment with his fans.
So began another concert for the group, their first concert in Connecticut in nine months. Their set list varied a bit from last February’s show, with the crowd-pleasing epic “Konstantine” included this time around, and “I Want to Save You” performed in a slowed down, intimate version.
The band’s recent nonstop touring surrounds last Tuesday’s release of the “Live at the Ventura Theater” DVD, an ambitious outing that attempted to cover a lot of bases as Something Corporate’s first major DVD project since a simple offering from their label in 2002. After the show, McMahon sat down with The Mirror for a quick chat about a number of things going on with the band.
Just as he did in the February concert, McMahon interacted with the crowd throughout the entire concert. By the second song, he was singing on top of speakers and even nearly hit his head on the ceiling when he got up on his piano, an action that riled the crowd (and gained a few laughs when he put his head over the bar he had nearly hit a few moments before).
McMahon reached out to the crowd a number of times throughout the show, high-fiving fans and even getting into the crowd surfing momentum that took hold at the end of the show. Fans moshed heavily during the performance, despite McMahon’s encouragement to fans to be courteous of one another, something that fans did attempt for awhile before moshing again near the end of the show. Several audience members had to be removed for their own safety.
McMahon noted that the band had taken some time off prior to this particular run of tour dates.
“We took four or five months off for the first time in years,” McMahon told The Mirror. “It was a good rejuvenation. We were at it really hard.”
McMahon believes the break was taken at the right time.
“We went right to the edge of burnout,” he said, adding that the band took their break after second album “North” ran its course.
The concert ran without any hitches, a major credit to Toad’s Place, especially since the opening act, Hotel, was a last minute replacement who came in to help them out just two hours before show time.
“We called Hot Rod Circuit,” McMahon said, “and asked them to help us out. They weren’t in town, but they got us in touch with Hotel.” The original opening act broke up mere hours before the show, leading to their predicament, according to both McMahon and Jim Aveni, the lead singer of Hotel.
Aveni, a New Haven native, said he was equally excited to do the show, noting that they had a night off before a show in Boston the next day.
“It was a good time,” he said. “Everyone was excited about the music.”
As for the DVD, McMahon emphasized the care taken to ensure a quality product, including a large amount of pre-production.
“We wanted to do something that was really tasteful,” he said. He wanted to aim for quality like the popular Talking Heads offering, but said, “I don’t think we could reach that level.”
Despite his modesty, “Live at the Ventura Theater” offers an extremely high-quality portrayal of the concert from this past summer, with impressive editing and a large number of shots on the entire band. McMahon noted that they had a number of options to choose from.
“We could have done five or six cameras in HD, but instead had 13 or 14 cameras in total. In the end, we had 36 or 37 hours worth of footage to go through,” he said.
The amount of camera angles is maximized in the production, with incredibly good editing pulling together a live video that would make most envious. The editing increases in intensity with the music and becomes more relaxed during some of the slower numbers.
Ultimately, the editing and choice of camera angles enhance, rather than detract, from the music.
The best part about the DVD is how spontaneous it is, just like the concerts. When McMahon picks up the wrong lyric during one song, he makes note of it, then goes back and starts down the correct path. Rarely will a band let that go, but Something Corporate ultimately offers an authentic concert memento.
Unlike many live offerings, the editing was done in post-production, as the band screened through the footage from the different cameras looking for the right angles. McMahon said that this was a time-consuming but ultimately worthwhile cause.
The concert DVD captures the energy of an average Something Corporate concert well, with a set list that would make most fans get excited, including the previously-mentioned “Konstantine.”
“It’s really heartbreaking when you hear someone drove 13 hours to see us live,” said Clutch, the bassist for the group. “Now they can see us live on DVD, and hopefully will come out to a show later.”