LIVE REVIEW: Magic Bullets @ Pianos 8-28-10
You know it’s going to be an awesome show when the bassist and the keyboarder are both ecstatically dancing along with the singer onstage, which is exactly what happened at the Magic Bullets show at Pianos in New York this past weekend. The San Francisco-based band fleshed out their breezy, fuzzy pop wonderfully live, instilling a happy and excited energy into their performance that spilled over into the dancing audience below. After all, how can you manage to keep your feet still when the musicians in front of you are all shaking themselves silly with smiles on their faces?
Magic Bullets, for all the obvious comparisons to the Smiths that they seem to be fostering these days, set themselves apart from their predecessors at shows like this because of their unique and apparent enthusiasm for playing music to a live audience. After an already-solid lineup that featured Blood Orange, the Cinnamon Band and Beachcombers, the band brought the night to an end on an especially high note by taking many of their melancholy songs and elevating them through a genuinely heartfelt delivery that was at once charming and energizing. Drummer Alex Kaiser was particularly impressive, maintaining a cool and calm demeanor while briskly matching his bandmates with tight, fast beats that never faltered or fell flat.
It’s always a treat, too, when a band proves themselves capable of versatility through shifting their tone in a live performance. Listening to their dreamy and moody new self-titled album, you would expect a much more subtle and moody performance, and yet throughout the entirety of the show Magic Bullets managed to successfully twist their sound into something much more playful and exuberant. Maybe it’s the excitement of coming to New York, or maybe it’s just the way they do things all the time, but whatever it was it was a happy surprise to have a band that has songs titled like “Sigh The Day Away” hopping up and down all over the stage. Perhaps lead singer Philip Benson summed it up best when he turned towards the audience before playing the last song and explained how the a lot of the album is really melancholy because he used to feel down a lot; he then countered that statement with a smile, saying that in the end you really can’t feel that way about life, because “it’s big!” It sure is, Mr. Benson, it sure is, and we hope that in the future Magic Bullets will continue to offer their fans some equally satisfying gems of wisdom as well as the music to match.
Photos by Hailey Desjardins