The Wilderness show appreciation for their biggest fan

New video follows local band's surprise private concert

The Wilderness released a video on Oct. 25 for their biggest fan.
Screenshot from the video

The Wilderness take fan appreciation to a whole new level with their latest video.

OnOct. 25, the Kingston-born band posted a six-minute video to Facebook. The video followed them as they set up for a surprise private concert for their biggest fan, Jan Mulholland, also known as “Watermelon Jan.” 

Their relationship with Jan began in May 2017, when the band found themselves in Syracuse, New York, while on their second US tour.

In search of the nearest Tim Hortons, they stopped outside Mulholland’s house to ask for directions.

Their hippie-style tour van caught her attention, and they started talking about their tour plans.

Mulholland, a positive person by nature, ran into her house and came back out with juice, biscuits, and watermelon for them to take on the road. Just like that, Watermelon Jan’s nickname was born.

Although brief, this interaction sparked a strong connection between the band and Mulholland, who would soon become their biggest fan. After exchanging contact information, Mulholland started keeping up to date on all things The Wilderness through their social media updates. She immediately became their most active Facebook fan. 

“Everything we put online, she was the first person to comment on it,” keyboardist Liam Neale said.

Over the following months, Mulholland kept in touch with all of the band members, messaging them individually to wish them happy birthdays and to congratulate them on their successes.

Without a passport, Mulholland wasn’t able to come to see the band perform in Canada, which is ultimately what prompted frontman Jonas Lewis-Anthony to come up with the idea of hosting a surprise concert for Jan in Syracuse.

Initially, the idea was simple:  drive down to Syracuse to perform a small surprise concert for Mulholland, with the logistical help of her sons Jake and Dillon.

Soon, though, their plan began to grow. Before long, a filming crew of seven camera operators and a director were involved. The group decided to rent out the Syracuse Palace Theatre for the event.

“Working on the idea and collaborating with different people, it became way bigger than we ever could have imagined,” guitarist Sascha Lansky said.

On the day of the concert, Jake and Dillon planned extensively to keep their mom distracted while the band set up in the theatre. Mulholland was made to believe that the camera crew was filming her for a documentary on life in Syracuse.

In a detail that’s almost too good to be true, Mulholland decided to wear the band’s t-shirt that day, telling her sons that it’s one of her favourites.

Running on one hour of sleep and after many hours of driving, The Wilderness was finally ready to put on the show.

She arrived at the theatre, thinking her sons were taking her to a play.

The surprise worked seamlessly, and Mulholland entered the concert hall to find one of her favourite bands on stage to perform a concert specifically for her.

 In this theatre built for 700 people, Mulholland, her sons, and the crew sang along with the band and enjoyed the evening together.

“It was all so surreal,” Lansky said.

The experience also allowed the band to get to know Jan better by spending time with her and her loved ones.

“She’s just a really positive person to be around. She has such a positive aura,” Neale said.

“Everyone is so loving around her. She’s obviously a figure of kindness to everyone who knows her,” Lansky added.

Since being posted, the video documenting the event has reached thousands, generating great feedback in the process. 

Though the story is such an emotional one for the band members, they weren’t sure whether viewers would be able to feel the same effect.

“It was really, really heartening to see that a lot of people did,” Lansky said. “It’s really rewarding to see all of the positive impacts that have come out of this.”

As the band has continued to develop over the past two years, Watermelon Jan has represented the heart of what motivates them to continue pursuing their music.

“It’s very easy to get down on yourself in this particular industry, so to touch someone emotionally in a way that makes them feel positive is very inspiring,” Neale said.


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