Yesterday evening, Penn’s Social Planning and Events Committee (SPEC) hosted Mayer Hawthorne and Cheers Elephant at Harrison Auditorium in the Penn Museum, attracting a rather diverse crowd. Despite the rows of seating, the crowd stood and filtered into the aisles and near the stage to get close view and enjoy the show.
Cheers Elephant, a quartet that hails from our very own city of Brotherly Love, opened the show. Their performance was just as dynamic as their sound. Their atypical approach to upbeat pop leaned towards a more rough sound, somewhat in the vein of Nada Surf and The Fratellis. The real entertainment was in the band members themselves. Dressed in the alternative rock staples of skinny jeans and faded button downs, their lead singer had incredible energy channeled into hilarious, albeit a bit awkward, dance moves. The drummer was an act all on his own: his ultra-long hair hid his face and flew in every direction as he used his fists to hit the cymbal. While their sound isn’t in the same genre as Hawthorne’s, they provided a stand-up — literally, everyone stood up — performance that set a positive tone for the rest of the show.
After a short wait and the entrance of the band, who all dressed in matching black vests and crisp white dress shirts, Mayer Hawthorne arrived on stage, sporting what might be added to the list of The WALK’s favorite performance outfits — a red tuxedo, complete with black silk accents, a white pocket square, and a bow tie. He introduced his act as “The Mayer Hawthorne Show,” and added one of the many gems that came from his musical breaks, “If you smokin’ that crack, take your a** to the back; if you smokin’ that skunk, get to the front.” He then advised us that he didn’t want the experience to be a concert, but rather a party, and he did everything he could to make that happen.
Hawthorne’s music is a soulful exception to the music of our generation, smooth and jazzy, unlike any of the other artists who have graced our campus in the past few years. The range of songs went from funk, to jazz with a pop edge, to smooth and heartfelt. Hawthorne went from an upbeat song like “The Walk” (the name of which we adore), to a slower track such as his cover of Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got a Crush On You,” which made our hearts melt. He also offered a short pause in which he and his band posed to allow everyone to take photos, afterwards insisting that the audience put their phones away and enjoy the music live, rather than from behind a screen. Everyone was happy to oblige. Hawthorne and his band brought synchronized dance movements and plenty of tambourine. Those elements combined with his ability to translate his silky voice effortlessly to a live performance made for a wonderful show. It’s official — The WALK loves Mayer Hawthorne.
– Rama Hamarneh