Full disclosure: I was really only going to the Here We Go Magic show at the Troubadour on Thursday night to check out the opener, Beach Fossils. But, sometimes fate has different plans. Sometimes naps go longer than expected. Sometimes cell phones are forgotten at home. So, Beach Fossils, my apologies, but the 45 seconds of your set that I caught seemed promising.
Here We Go Magic and I have had an interesting relationship. So much buzz was built around them before I actually heard them, that I was a little let down when I finally gave them a listen. But, Luke Temple is a good songwriter and my issues stemmed more from the Ariel Pink-esque production that imbued Pigeons with an overall stain of lameness. Even the name Here We Go Magic filled my mind with images of teenagers in bright clothing playing Of Montreal for the night. When the band took the stage, I was pleasantly surprised to see grownups and even more surprised with what came after: an honest to God, sweat pouring down, leave-it-all-on-the-stage, rock and roll show. It was the kind of show that made me reevaluate all my suppositions about the band, change my mind about some songs I did not care for and really question if maybe they should go a little less-is-more in the studio, because without all the fancy, dream-like production, they kind of kick ass.
After torching through the opener, “Surprise” began with its slow built groove. Now, maybe it is the heterosexual man in me, but as captivating as Luke Temple is to watch as a singer, I was enthralled by the sexuality that oozed off of both bass player Jennifer Turner and keyboardist Kristiana Lieberson. Both shook their hips to the music, seemingly feeling the slow-jam pulsating through every part of their body. It was not what I expected, to say the least, but damn, it was a revelation to discover that Here We Go Magic has quite sexy music.
The band continued through a selection of Pigeons tunes that, to be honest, made me like the album a lot more. “Collector” never really had a clear beginning, rather it just morphed from the previous tune, but by the time the second verse kicked in, it was in full barn-storming glory. Sweat poured from Temple’s face, which would continue throughout the rest of the night, and the rest of the band had their work cut out for them to match the singer’s intensity. They succeeded without problem, but man, did this band work hard all night. Though anything you read about them makes it clear that this is Temple’s band, something that evolved from a solo project, the band seemed like a collective on stage, with drummer Peter Hale addressing the crowd more than anyone. It was made known that this was the band’s proper L.A. debut and that they hadn’t really played many U.S. shows since Pigeons had been released. The result: the band seemed literally thrilled to be on-stage and thrilled to be enjoyed so tremendously (L.A. always manages to play it so cool at shows, but tonight the majority of the fans were fully engaged, dancing and grooving throughout.)
The band nailed album highlight “F.F.A.P.”, and then devoted the end of the set to selections from their self-titled debut. The older song’s were tighter musically, but the entire set was consistent in energy, leaving no one feeling short-changed for the amount of effort the band gave to entertain them. “Only Pieces” saw Temple move to the keys for a dual synth moment that showcased his abilities as a musician, while “Fangela”, a clear highlight, really brought Temple’s vocal abilities to light, as his cries of “You’ve got to move” came straight from the gut with a passion that I didn’t see coming. Then, finally, with “Tunnelvision”, they produced the epic noise jam I had been expecting more of, but when I finally received it, I was glad it was reserved for this one moment. It made my head want to explode.
The crowd really emptied out for the encore, and though the tunes were good, it was clear that the energy had deflated from the room. Either way, Here We Go Magic had managed to find complete success in both making the hipsters lose control and making the skeptics re think their critiques. Without all the psychedelic haze, Here We Go Magic is a quite a strong rock band and Temple is both an able songwriter and captivating singer. There’s probably a reason that Beach Fossils is opening for them and not the other way around. We’ll just have to wait for the next time Beach Fossils is in town to find out.
Photography by Jesse Bloch.
Old World United