Photo by Sam Harper
A 16+ show is usually a hit or a miss, but luckily for me, Magic Man and The Griswolds at the Varsity Theater was a definite hit.
The energetic show started off with Panama Wedding, a synthpop band from New York City. They set the bar high with head-bopping melodies that anyone could sing along to. It seemed like the majority of the crowd didn’t know them, but they managed to keep the crowd engaged and dancing.
Then the co-headliner, The Griswolds of Sydney, Australia, brought forth a whole different kind of energy. Although, I had never heard of them before the concert, there were plenty of people that had. With hefty drum and guitar solos, the band managed to rile up the crowd in a different way than the previous act. The band’s sound had an ‘80’s flair, and red-haired lead singer,Chris Whitehall, rocked hard. For their last song of the set, Whitehall ended up climbing on top of the bass drum and drumming along with the drummer.
After The Griswolds finished their set, there was a lull before Magic Man came on.
But as soon as band’s lead singer, Alex Caplow, hit the stage, the crowd came back alive.
Most of Magic Man’s set was from their 2014 “Before the Waves” album, but they made sure to lace in a few new songs from their upcoming album as well. The new songs seemed to move away from their original sound of synthpop and into the pop rock genre — heavy on the guitar and drums. I personally loved Magic Man’s first and self-produced album, “Real Life Color,” because it was somewhat experimental and synth heavy. The new songs were extremely catchy and the crowd enjoyed them.
Although Magic Man returned to a duo setup since their last tour — just Caplow and Sam Lee, the guitarist — their touring band fit right in. The band was able to sustain the energy throughout their 45 minute set. But all in all, the real showstopper was Caplow. The way he was able to capture the crowd with his singing and dancing was mesmerizing. He truly danced like no one was watching and I think his profuse sweating was proof of that.
Magic Man ended their set with their ever-famous song, “Paris.” And with the momentum from their best known song, everyone joined them for a rendition of R. Kelly’s “Ignition Remix.” The Griswolds’ tour manager, Danny Carissimi, even got on stage and rapped some bars for the crowd. The concert ended on a perfect note as everyone in the crowd was able to see all of the performers on one stage. Overall experience? Pretty damn good.