Today was Supposed to be a Happy Day

Dan Mangan at the 9:30 Club

I didn't know what to expect from Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan's set at the 9:30 Club the night after the election. Feelings were still pretty raw after the results of the election (93% of Washingtonians voted for Clinton, as did the majority of Americans). I had nearly forgotten about the show, and it felt strange to be be doing something so normal while feeling like I was still trying to wake up from a fever dream. The audience seemed to feel at least as tense as I did and people towards the front were murmuring that the venue might not even fill up. 

Dan Mangan took the stage at 8:00 as people continued to trickle in. I was worried that he wouldn't mention the elephant in the room, but he gamely tried to make the best of a shit situation. Towards the end of the set, after taking the pulse of the room, he put on a brave face for the crowd and tried to lighten the mood a bit. He said that he’d be hanging out in the back the merch table with “T-shirts, LPs, CDs, immigration forms…” There was some nervous laughter. I think a lot of folks would have taken him up on that.

For such sparse instrumentation, Mangan plays with surprising intensity. It was actually disquieting at some points of the set. I was glad to have come to his show not having heard a bar of his music before. The exercise of focusing on his lyricism and musicianship was more than enough to take my mind off of the new political reality, albeit temporarily. 

Dan Mangan and an audience member exchanged some words that summed up the set for me:

Mangan: "I don't know why people ask me to play [my sad songs] at weddings. It's supposed to be a happy day"
Audience: "Today was supposed to be a happy day!"
Mangan: "Today was supposed to be a happy day...”