Jack's Mannequin back on sunnier side of life

Music » Triple bill of pop-rock acts features Jack's Mannequin, Vedera and fun.
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After opening for The Fray last summer at Usana Amphitheatre and stealing the show, Jack's Mannequin is back in Utah, this time to headline a pop-rock show featuring up-and-coming bands Vedera and fun.

It's the band's first local show since the November release of "Dear Jack," a DVD that chronicled Jack's Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon's battle with leukemia.

Coming up on the five-year anniversary of his remission, the California-based McMahon said he didn't expect to release the DVD to the public. "I have gotten used to documenting my life," said McMahon of filming his life during his treatment. "It was my journal. Usually it was songs [that would be my journal], but I was too tired to write songs."

Fans showed an appetite for the DVD, which became the No. 1 music movie on iTunes the week it was released. The "Dear Jack EP" was released as well, featuring four unreleased songs, and it climbed to No. 17 on the iTunes overall album chart.

The media also took notice of the DVD, and the singer was invited to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." McMahon talked to Stewart about the film and performed a song -- a rare event for "The Daily Show."

"It was a big moment for us," McMahon said in an understatement.

The success has taken McMahon by surprise, as Jack's Mannequin started off being a softer, more piano-based solo project for the 27-year-old lead songwriter and singer for the rock band Something Corporate. The side project took off after Something Corporate went on hiatus in 2005, but the band will reunite in March at California's Bamboozle Left Festival. McMahon didn't know about future touring plans for Something Corporate, as one of the band members is attending law school.

For the time being, McMahon is writing the follow-up to 2008's "The Glass Passenger," the first album he wrote after being diagnosed with cancer. The new album will be "sunnier and more up-tempo.

"It feels so liberating," he said. "It feels so good to not have every song be about life hanging in the balance."

Vedera » Vedera is back in Utah after performing at the Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe during last month's Sundance Film Festival.

The Kansas City band's debut album, "Stages," was released Feb. 2 after October's digital-only release. The pop-rock band has been riding a recent wave of success -- its song "Satisfy" was named as one of iTunes' songs of the week, and they've been booked for this summer's relaunch of the Lillith Fair Tour.

The quartet has only one woman, lead singer Kristen May, but the group is excited about performing on the Lillith Fair Tour, which originally toured each summer from 1997 to 1999 with some of the biggest female-fronted acts of the era.

In an interview, May said her brother and father used to ski at Brighton Ski Resort when she was younger, but she always "preferred the warmth." After touring with the likes of The Fray, The Wallflowers, Jason Mraz, The All American Rejects, Plain White T's and most recently with Mat Kearney, the band is set to continue playing live all year long.

fun. » The New York City-based pop-rock band called "fun." -- and that name includes a period --- has toured before with Jack's Mannequin. In fact, that gig was their first tour ever, said Andrew Dost. In an interview, he first called them "jerks," which led to an uncomfortable pause before he explained his joke. "No, they're the sweetest guys ever, " he added.

Despite being a relatively new band, fun. already has sizable support in Utah as lead singer Nate Ruess used to be in The Format, an Arizona-based band that often toured locally.

Dost was in another band when Ruess came calling, and but jumped at the chance to collaborate with Ruess. "They have become my best friends," Dost said of his bandmates. "It doesn't feel like work. This is refreshing."

The band's predilection for chamber pop and theatricality that's reminiscent of Panic At The Disco is best illustrated on last year's "Columbus," available on iTunes. It's a musical based on Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas, with songs titled "Behold, It is Round" and "Dude! I Can See Land! Again!"


Jack's Mannequin

When » Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.

Where » In The Venue, 579 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $23 in advance, $25 day of, at SmithsTix and 24Tix

Opening Acts » Vedera, fun.