A Review of Jason McCue at Conor Byrne Pub by Bailee Clark

Photo by Bailee Clark

Humans may only be his third favorite species, but he’s going to be playing in front of thousands of them in a few days. Jason McCue, the Environmental Studies major from Seattle University, will hit the stage at Bumbershoot on September first. Conor Byrne Pub hosted Jason last Thursday, along with the bands Colorworks and Grubby Sweetheart. The dankly lit pub contained around 30 people, a stark contrast to what is to come for Jason.

 

The first band to resonate their tunes into the narrow Irish pub was Grubby Sweetheart, an alternative rock group that produced well-blended voices and instrumentals, and some strong riffs. Jason could be seen holding a beer and talking to supporters who had come to see him.

Jason was next on stage. I sat drinking my Guinness not knowing what to expect; despite knowing Jason since my freshman year and having had several classes with him, I hadn’t had the chance to hear him perform before. I knew him as a jokester and lover of animals. He strode onto the stage and sat down on a stool, legs crossed and Adidas dangling. Jason introduced himself and thanked everyone for showing up, gave an awkward laugh, and began to strum his guitar. His face was lit in an orange din on account of the faux gas light on either side of the stage and a string of lights in front, giving the place an eerie vibe reminiscent of an old pub in Dublin. As Jason began to sing, it became apparent that he is a unique sort of musical artist.

There are some concerts that necessitate a few pulls from the trusty old flask, and some that require the whole damn thing. I sometimes find myself tuning out the repetitive and horribly boring lyrics that comprise a good chunk of today’s music. I find myself in the crowd at concerts, observing the variance of individuals around me, letting my body flow with the beat, tapping my foot to the methodical droll of the drums, mind wandering and distant. Jason’s lyrics, on the other hand, were words that demanded to be heard. With all thoughts of going into the bathroom to take a pull from my flask put aside, I leaned in a bit closer to hear what Jason had to say.

Jason didn’t move from the stool, but he didn’t have to dance around the stage to commandeer attention. The emotion in his songs is portrayed through facial expressions; the scrunch of his face as he concentrates, the blink of the eyes and nod of the head, and the distant stare indicate that he is in his own little world as he sings. The listener is forced to connect, to truly listen to the lyrics and attempt to read the enigmatic musician.

He has a wide vocal range, sounding natural as he hits the high notes in the song “Humans.” Beforehand, he had informed the crowd with a little smile that gorillas and giraffes were his two favorite species. Jason engaged the crowd in playful banter throughout the show, making corny jokes and seeming unfazed when people would give unenthusiastic responses.

After his performance, Jason sat with his self-proclaimed band manager and waited for the final performance of the night, Colorworks. The floor in front of the stage was vacant at this point, and when a member of Colorworks encouraged all of us mingling about to come stand by the stage, Jason was the first to hit the floor with a beer in his hand and a smile on his face.

In an interview after the show, Jason admitted that he was a little nervous for Bumbershoot, but that he is also excited to fan girl over the other artists. “I’m going to just wait around the artist area until I see Lorde and try to sneak past her bodyguard somehow,” he said with a chuckle. He told me that he wants to continue with music until it isn’t fun anymore, but that eventually he wants to do an environmental studies related job, preferably one with animals. For my final question, I asked him for his life motto. Without hesitation, he rambled on for about two minutes, saying random and nonsensical sentences involving Nintendo and snowmen.