To kick off 2020, alternative rock groups American Authors and MAGIC GIANT hit the road together for a 34-city tour that began in January and ends February 27 in New York City. The bands are co-headliners on the Band of Brothers Road Show tour, and they’ve made sure to create an unforgettable experience.
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The evening kicked off was Van Bellman, led by Brooklyn musician Zac Taylor. Initially, Van Bellman wasn’t ready to open, but members of the original opening group, PUBLIC, were sick and unable to perform. But for a set that was put together literally at the last minute, Van Bellman killed it. Armed with his vocals and guitar for most of the set, Taylor brought in his A-game, playing with the enthusiasm of someone who has had weeks to prepare. His set was very enjoyable, and it was obvious he was having fun, especially towards the end, when a whole group joined in.
After Van Bellman were the co-headliners. In deciding which group would play first, Taylor enlisted the help of a few people in the crowd for a game of Plinko, and the group that hit two of three first would start. MAGIC GIANT was the determined winner. Before their real set, however, they were joined on stage with American Authors to play the chorus of their new single “Disaster Party”, which excited the crowd before the real deal.
MAGIC GIANT. Courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Julia
Zambricki Li, MAGIC GIANT. Courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Julia
The first full song they sang was “Celebrate the Reckless”, and their performance was immediately bursting with life and vigor, setting the bar (which kept rising) for the rest of the night. They followed up with “Glass Heart,” where the next major audience interaction took place. When they hit the instrumental break after the chorus, they asked everyone to jump to the side, going to the left first. Meanwhile, the group shimmered, leaping along the stage. Then, “Hideaway”, “Jade”, and they wrapped up their first part of the gig with the full version of “Disaster Party”. I had never seen MAGIC GIANT in concert before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was in for a treat, and they exceeded my expectations. I loved watching them all dance with each other and keep everyone entertained. By this point, I understood that it couldn’t and would only get better.
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The American authors then took to the stage. They started their set with “Believer”, a song from their debut album, followed by “Stay Around” from their most recent album. Once the crowd warmed up, they entered “Right Here Right Now”. This was a great choice to increase the energy defined by MAGIC GIANT. “Say Amen” was next, along with “Go Big or Go Home,” which got everyone on the move. They ended their first mini-set with “Oh, What a Life”, one of their most famous songs. This was my third time seeing American Authors live, and my favorite so far. They still put on a terrific performance, and it was great to hear them play a variety of songs from their albums.
Both groups played their first small sets, but the night was far from over. In fact, it was only just beginning. After a brief intermission, MAGIC GIANT returned to the stage to sing an acoustic version of “Great Divide”, except that they didn’t stay on stage for long. MAGIC GIANT lead singer Austin Bisnow asked the crowd if the band could get down to the floor and join them, to which the answer was an obvious and resounding yes. Throughout the song, the band performed in the middle of the track. While both versions of the song are wonderful, I prefer the acoustic version a bit more, and the live acoustic version is even better. I loved their decision to play it in the crowd. Plus, the phones’ flashlights were on, lighting up the room and adding to the overall effect. It was one of my favorite songs of the evening.
Changing again, American Authors took over for a song, making an acoustic version of “Luck”. Although their lead singer, Zac Barnett, remained on stage, the rest of the group walked through the crowd, adding a few more instruments, mostly drums, for the second half of the song. The added bass of the drum made the song and the room come alive in a more visceral way; you could literally feel it while they were playing. Once the rest of the band returned to the stage, they were joined by MAGIC GIANT for a cover of “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel. (Who do I talk to to have their version recorded and released?) Then there was another quick intermission.
When I think of headlining bands on a tour, I expect one band to play their set and die off with the second band playing their set. This has been my experience with co-headliners in the past. Naturally, I really expected to see one band at a time playing a full set. I’ve never been so excited to be wrong. For much of the night, members of the non-performing group would join them and perform with the group on stage. Occasionally, the two groups were on stage together, although one of them was only providing support and backing.
Eventually, they started playing one at a time again, but it was short-lived as the show started to come to an end. The next section belonged to MAGIC GIANT, who started their next part with “Rocketman” (which is not a cover of Elton John’s song). As the song is the one that features American writers, Barnett joined them in singing. They followed up with “Nothin ‘Left”. Then, “Shake Me Up”, which was a dance party in its own right, from the group and the crowd. After they performed a brand new unreleased song, Bisnow said they weren’t even finished writing, but it was fantastic. Before officially starting, Bisnow asked everyone to learn the chorus, and by the time they were ready to start, everyone was singing as if they had heard it a thousand times. Their last song before the exchange was “Set on Fire”.
One of the notable events of the night did not involve any music at all. It was around this time that the person conducting the sound (whose name escapes me) was drawn to the stage. Barnett first told us to applaud the sound guy for his hard work and then told us it was his birthday. After we all wished the sound guy a happy birthday, it was quickly followed by a cake full of cake.
Courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Julia
Courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Julia
Raising the temperature, the American writers embarked on “Bring It on Home”, which they performed with MAGIC GIANT and which was another great dance party. Then came “Neighborhood” and their new song “Microphone”, which they sang entirely in the crowd. This song also included another notable moment of audience involvement. During part of the song, Barnett asked everyone to get as low as possible with him. He and the rest of us crouched down as he continued to sing, biding his time. Finally, he jumped up, urging everyone to do the same with him until the song was over. Then they took a more solemn turn with “Deep Water”, my favorite song by American writers, and one of the songs I was most looking forward to hearing live. Although it was originally a song with only American songwriters singing, Bisnow returned to the stage to perform it with them, and it fitted in perfectly. spectacle.
MAGIC GIANT with “Window” took the lead. The US songwriters followed up with “Best Day of My Life,” creating more and more excitement (who knew it was possible?) Before the last song of the evening. Finally, with everyone – American Authors, MAGIC GIANT, Van Bellman, one of the unhappy members of PUBLIC, EVERYONE – on stage, the groups ended with a cover of “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes, featuring the audience singing along with them just as loud. I thought it was an interesting song to finish. I liked that they decided to cover a song together rather than ending with a band’s song, even though they always sang it together. He emphasized them as a unit rather than as several separate units.
It was perhaps one of the best concerts I have attended. First of all, all the performers had incredible and contagious energy. It was almost impossible not to dance and sing. Even when I was in the photo pit, I couldn’t help but dance a little bit. They were excited for PUBLIC to join them on tour and still provided their full support and enthusiasm, although PUBLIC couldn’t perform. Another reason the evening was so memorable is the bond American Authors and MAGIC GIANT had with the audience. The ways they found to include the crowd in the most interactive way possible made it easier to get lost in the show. They made sure we were all as energetic as them and had fun (which we certainly were). Finally, the title of their tour seemed to match the way they interacted with each other perfectly. It wasn’t hard to tell that they really enjoy playing together. If you ever find the chance, these bands are the ones you don’t want to miss on tour. It’s guaranteed to be the best night of your life.
Stay tuned for more photos from the show!