Concert Review: MAGIC GIANT Gives Breath of Fresh Air in More Ways Than One

If you have been having a tough time coping and find yourself in need of a hug, you should really find your way to a MAGIC GIANT concert. I’m not just talking about how Austin, Zang and Zambricki give the most amazing hugs – I’m talking about how there is so much positivity radiating from these guys, it becomes an encompassing force throughout the room that feels like a giant embrace.

Admittedly, I had no intention of writing a review when I went to the “In The Wind” album release party, but that show was so beyond words, I decided I had to take on the challenge of at least trying to capture the incredible experience.

The sense of community surrounding MAGIC GIANT began even before the show did. Lead singer Austin Bisnow, identifiable by his disheveled ponytail held back with a woven headband, stopped to hug various members of the audience on his way to the stage telling them to “have a great show,” creating an inclusive atmosphere that emphasized the audience’s contribution to the show as much as the band’s. And the audience definitely held up their end of the bargain.

If you’re not from the area, you should know that attendees of Los Angeles concerts have the tendency to be “too cool” to dance, creating a crowd of people simply nodding their heads to the beat. This was not at all the case for MAGIC GIANT. Just one song in the crowd’s enthusiasm was so intense, I knew I was in for more than just a typical L.A. gig.

The energy each individual member brought to the stage was remarkable. Brian Zhagi, known in the group as Zang, was like a bouncing ball of excitement with his guitar, moving around almost non-stop, even when he switched out his guitar for his cello. Yes. I said cello.

Zambricki Li showed off his multi-instrumental skills as well, switching between his fiddle and banjo, often multitasking with his harmonica fastened around his neck. Each instrument he played just as passionately as the next.

Austin is one of those rare cases of singers who actually sound better live. While the recorded album captures his gentle falsetto, when performing live, his voice has a spine-tingling richness that is lost in the studio. Also his ability to sing with such depth while jumping and dancing around as much as he did should probably be considered a super power.

“In the Wind” earned its title from the fact that it was recorded on the road using their bus which they converted to a solar-powered mobile recording studio. The kinetic energy of travel is infused in the 15-track album, with only two songs slow enough to be considered ballad-like. This translated to a non-stop dance party in concert, barely giving themselves or the audience a chance to catch their breath, especially with drum-driven hooks on “Hideaway,” “Window” and “Set On Fire” making up the bulk of their set list.

The audience played just as big a role in the overall experience as the band itself. For an album that was just released, the audience somehow knew all the lyrics to the songs. As the band concluded their short set, the audience didn’t even wait until they had exited the stage before demanding an encore, demonstrating how MAGIC GIANT obviously garners a loyal fan base, and it’s no surprise as to why.

The band is just as invested in their fans as their fans are in them. Austin, Zang and Zambricki spent so much time talking to and getting to know individuals after the show, security had to step in to close. The time they spend with their fans was not exclusive to that night. Austin shared a story about a fan who spoke with him after a show about a song they performed that was unnamed at the time. That encounter inspired the finalized version of the song that came to be titled “Jade” after the girl’s deceased friend.

MAGIC GIANT doesn’t just have immense love for their fans, they have a great dedication to the earth. They partnered with One Tree Planted so that a tree would be planted for every album sold. Also, all the merchandise sold that night was re-purposed with their band name and design, making every single piece completely unique. Likewise, the merchandise sold on their website is produced at a solar-powered, paper-free, conscious manufacturer in L.A.

The sense of genuine harmony and solidarity that emanates from MAGIC GIANT and sets them apart from other musical acts can best be expressed with a sentiment Austin shared: “It doesn’t matter who’s to blame. It doesn’t matter who takes the credit. We’re all in this together… We rise together, we fall together.”

{Watch all my videos from the release party on my Youtube channel.}

[All photos and videos are my own, i.e. the crappy feature photo was a screenshot because there was too much dancing happening to capture a good still.]

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