Life is wonderful when Jason Mraz is performing an acoustic set on the SMU campus.
On Friday night, Mraz headlined the first concert of the CODERED concert series sponsored by the Program Council Hilltop Concerts Committee. The performance was held in McFarlin auditorium, and tickets sold for $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
The show brought in not only established Mraz fans but also people interested in uncovering the source of all the campus hype.
“I don’t really know Jason Mraz but I heard his music was really energetic and so I was interested to see what all the excitement was about,” said sophomore Katie Roberts.
The CODERED concert series was designed to bring a popular musician to campus to reward the efforts students put forth throughout the year.
“This concert is a great opportunity to start a new tradition on campus that brings in popular performers. It’s a way of bringing the popular music scene to SMU,” said first-year Erika Paul.
Most students appreciated the concert because it provided premier entertainment at a college-friendly cost.
Sophomore Sidhartha Basu explains, “I came because I knew I’d get to see a top artist perform, the tickets were cheap and it was being held close by.”
The auditorium doors opened around 7:15 p.m. to an eager crowd that started to form in the early afternoon. Students poured into McFarlin for prime seating and as several claimed space in the pit directly in front of the stage, many others settled into seats nearby. Although the venue’s first floor was only half-full, it was filled with the energy and excitement of a packed house.
John Holiday, a junior in the Meadows School of the Arts, was the opening act. The jazz band accompaniment to Holiday’s passionate singing entertained the audience and set the tone for the evening. He literally moved the audience as several couples slow-danced to the classics he performed.
But the show really started at 9:00 p.m. when Mraz took the stage. McFarlin auditorium was witness to nearly two hours of an indescribable and individually unique style of music that can only be classified as the music of Jason Mraz. The acoustic session featured Mraz (lead vocals, guitar,) Toca Rivera (percussion, background vocals) and Ian Sheridan (bass, background vocals.) And although Mraz’s accompaniment enhanced the show, it was he who owned the stage. In a matter of minutes he had won over the crowd with his talent and enlightened them with the secret to life (which can be found on his April 28 journal entry at www.jasonmraz.com.)
The quality of the live music matched that of any of his albums, but Mraz’s magical performance and commanding stage presence reassured the audience he was on the McFarlin stage. Mraz sang songs off all of his albums, including his most popular “Waiting For My Rocket To Come” and “Mr. A-Z,” but enhanced them with improvised extensions and individualized lyrics.
“Mumbling in a big silent room is my absolute favorite thing to do,” confessed Mraz to his captivated audience.
He even seamlessly broke into classic covers during some of his own classic songs. Mraz integrated the Oasis hit “Wonderwall” into the bridge of his well-known song “The Remedy” as well as sampled many Bob Marley songs (one of Mraz’s favorite artists.)
The most personal element of the performance was the dialogue Mraz initiated with the crowd. He encouraged audience participation, which enhanced the intimacy of the show.
And the audience enjoyed it so much they demanded an encore. After saying his goodbye and exiting the stage, the audience cheered and chanted bringing Jason Mraz back onstage for two more songs. He played his melodic track “The Boy’s Gone” followed by “0% Interest” which incorporated parts of a very distinctive rendition of “Our House.” While singing “Our House,” he invited the audience to sing along and without hesitation they obliged. He called for the ladies of the audience to sing along first, then the guys, followed by an invitation to the short people, then the single ladies (which he explained was for the benefit of the single guys,) then the audience sang along in a whisper, and finally Mraz finished it off with the chorus sang in Spanish.
Confirming the connection Mraz seemed to have built with his entire audience in merely two hours, he shook hands with fans on his second walk off stage.