Review: Here We Go Magic; April 27, 2010; Mr. Smalls Theater, Pittsburgh

The lineup at Mr. Smalls on Tuesday night was a confusing one, with Here We Go Magic sandwiched between garage rockers Tokyo Police Club and grunge-punk band The Edukators. Here We Go Magic’s brand of psych rock was the stylistic opposite of the other two acts, and I was curious as to how they would handle their odd placement.

Since the release of their self-titled album last year, Here We Go Magic have earned a lot of buzz in a short amount of time. The album is full of tribal rhythms and catchy lyrics that build to hypnotic sonic heights, and their forthcoming follow-up, Pigeons — set for release on June 7th through Secretly Canadian — should only increase interest in the band.

Their set at Mr. Smalls was a very short one, by my count comprised of only seven songs. They opened with the shimmery “Moon,” which found singer Luke Temple whispering into the mic and twitching to the beat as the band constructed a wall of sound around him. The feedback gave way to “Surprise,” a haunted house of a song that climaxed with a swirl of spooky organ and spectral static.

The energy picked up as Here We Go Magic broke into Pigeons lead single “Collector,” a bouncy, infectious song that showcased the band at their best. “I’ve got a mild fascination with collectors,” Temple sang in a falsetto as the song reeled into a psychedelic jitterbug, then screeched to a jovial, abrupt halt.

The band breezed through another new song, “Casual,” before ending the set with two songs from their self-titled debut. First was the wispy, transcendental “Fangela” — a song that I’ve listened to countless times over the last year — which filled the venue with its hand-claps and pulsing synth. That bled into “Tunnelvision”, another slow-burner that began with plucky guitar, then built into a Radiohead-like trance. Temple sang in a drawn out, high-pitched croon as the band shook and convulsed to the spellbinding groove.

Here We Go Magic’s set was tight and professional, but also disappointingly short. Perhaps I will get to experience their full sonic assault when I see them at this year’s Bonnaroo festival. Unfortunately, at last week’s show, the band seemed just as confused as to why they were on the bill as I was.

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