Magic in ‘Paris’
Adam Ramos | Thursday, March 19, 2015
Without a doubt, Magic Man’s “Paris” is a hit. With an infectious piano hook and frenetic chorus you can’t help but bob your head to, “Paris” is my go-to when I need a pick-me-up. Yet upon seeing Magic Man live earlier this week at the Old National Centre, I questioned whether “Paris” alone could carry an entire live set and unfortunately, I may have been justified in my worries. With only one full-length album, Magic Man certainly struggled with monotony throughout the night. However, with a few strong points, the indie-pop group promises genuine potential.
Boston-based Magic Man have found a comfortable mix of synth pop and modern rock throughout their 2014 full length album, “Before the Waves.” With powerful vocals from front man Alex Caplow coupled with soaring and airy synths, Magic Man is a powerful new voice in the indie pop sphere. Hailed as “12 Tracks of Alt Joy” by GQ, “Before the Waves” is a fun album, and while it may lack some substance, it is certainly a strong starting point from a relatively new group.
I met Magic Man in Indianapolis on the ninth stop of their first major headlining tour, which brought me to the Old National Centre, a monstrous ornate edifice with an interesting history. Standing as the largest shrine temple in North America, the Old National Centre, if nothing else, was an intriguing spot for a performance — even despite the aging interior. Magic Man brought along with them two indie newcomers, The Vinyl Records and Great Good Fine Ok. While The Vinyl Records was a bit easy to forget, I was impressed with Great Good Fine Ok. GGFO brought a refreshing take on synth pop, reminiscent of ’80’s funk, keytar solo and all. I look forward to watching GGFO mature: after all, we could all use a little more funk in our lives, or at least I always can.
Then Magic Man took the stage in a rush of lights, pounding beats and swirling synths. While the energy was invigorating, man can’t live on energy alone, and as my lame dance moves began to dwindle, my mind drifted to one song: “Paris.” While artistry was sharp throughout the whole show, there just was not enough substance in Magic Man’s set to keep me involved. Pretty soon, much of the set congealed into one long pop ballad accentuated with all the “whoos” and “oohs” I could handle.
Yet the optimist in me left the Old National Centre with a smile. Sure, Magic Man was a bit dull in their fun, energetic blend of indie pop, but when they were good, they were good. A clear high note was the first encore performance, a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” Magic Man’s signature high-energy performances fit perfectly with early 2000 alternative rock hit, and guitarist Sam Vanderhoop Lee’s guitar solo was fun for all. Finally, as my mind began to think of the two and a half hour drive back to campus and my 8:20 class in the morning, Magic Man brought out “Paris.” Despite everything, I couldn’t help but smile and the energy in the audience was palpable.
A nationwide tour might be exactly the maturation process Magic Man needs in order to elevate from one-hit-wonders to a contending voice in a genre seeing more and more commercial success. I would also encourage Notre Dame students not to forget how close we really are to the city of Indianapolis. Discovering a new city is always fun, and with only a short easy drive away, maybe Indianapolis can prove to be just as fun as “Paris” is! Sorry I’ll leave the jokes to the professionals next time.