Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw at Wolf Trap


Matt Nathanson made it very clear Sunday night at The Filene Center at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts that he was not the opening act for Gavin DeGraw. Telling a story about he and DeGraw wanted to do a tour together for over five years, Nathanson told the crowd about a deal that he made with DeGraw about how each of them would alternate each night closing the show. That night, DeGraw was closing, and Nathanson made it very clear with his outstanding performance that he is far too talented to be a forgotten opening act.

Matt Nathanson. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Matt Nathanson. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

Nathanson—known for his blend of folk and rock music and his acoustic guitar playing—opened strong, performing “Car Crash” with a mashed-up cover of the Top 40 hit “Fancy” From Iggy Azalea thrown in as a fan favorite.  It was a fun upbeat song, and a precursor the sense of whimsicality and musicality he brings to his performances.

Mash-ups were the tune of the night. Mid-way through the performance, Nathanson proclaimed boldly and hilariously that every had a “bit of Whitney Houston” in them, before proceeding to do a mash-up of “Room @ the End of the World” and Whitney Houston’s iconic “I Want to Dance with Somebody.” Engaging the entire crowd, Nathanson then did a song off of his latest album Last of the Great Pretenders (2013) entitled “Kinks Shirt,” which, almost 45 minutes into his set, finally got the audience up and dancing.

In his closing three-song set, Nathanson brought out two fan favorites: “Faster” and “Come On Get Higher,” with which he did an interesting mash-up with Grease’s “You’re the One That I Want.” Sandwiched between two favorites, he performed a cutesy, empowering pop ballad he wrote entitled “Headphones,” during which he talked about the power of music to make everyone feel invincible. With over ten albums out, Nathanson’s stage presence was entertaining and engaging, proving song-after-song that he is a musical force to be reckoned with.

 Gavin DeGraw. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Gavin DeGraw. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

After a twenty-minute intermission, Gavin DeGraw—who rose to fame in 2003 when “I Don’t Want To Be” was chosen as the theme song for One Tree Hill—joined the stage with his original “Leading Man.” He continued with the hit title song off of his debut album Chariot (2003), which sold over a million copies and earned platinum certification.

DeGraw—whose stage presence was at times humble and at other times rock-band outrageous—held the audience in the palm of his hand as he performed hits including “Best I Ever Had” and “We Belong Together.” Ending his set, he performed his popular 2008 song “In Love with a Girl” which peaked at number five on the US Adult Charts and a perfect song to belt out loud on a warm summer night. Ending his set, he, of course, performed the hit that brought him to fame, “I Don’t Want To Be,” which peaked at number one on the US Pop Charts.

After rousing applause, DeGraw came back on to perform “Not Over You” as his encore, the lead single from his fourth studio album, Sweeter. (2011) With the audience shaking their hips and belting the lyrics in unison, DeGraw finished off the night leaving the audience wanting more.

Andrew McMahon. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Andrew McMahon. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The opening act Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is also worth noting. Andrew McMahon who was the primary vocalist and pianist from the band Jack’s Mannequin did a rousing 30-minute set to kick-off the evening. New this year, he released his first single under “Cecilia and the Satellite,” named after his newborn daughter. His first solo LP is due out in Fall 2014.

There’s still time to check out a concert at Wolf Trap before the summer is over, so be sure to check their calendar of events for the latest information!

Running Time: Approximately three and a half hours, with two intermissions.

Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw played on Sunday, August 10, 2014 for one night only at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts —1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For future performances and information, check out their calendar of events.

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Derek Mong
Derek is a DC-native and a graduate of Duke University (B.A Political Science). During his junior/senior year at Duke, Derek served as a Marketing and Public Relations intern at the Nederlander-operated Durham Performing Arts Center. At his internship, Derek developed marketing campaigns and assisted press in coverage of the four major Broadway engagements that season: Memphis, The Addams Family, Bring It On, and Wicked. Upon graduating from Duke in 2012, Derek joined a tech and management consulting firm in Arlington, VA, where he currently works. Derek enjoys frequenting the DC-NYC theatre scene; when not in the theatre, Derek can probably be found running outdoors, blogging, playing the piano, traveling the country, and, of course, tweeting (@derekmong). Derek is currently obsessed with Disney's 'Newsies' on Broadway.


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