Magic Man steals the show

The lights finally dimmed after more than three hours of music from three different bands had flooded the Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) April 23. The screaming fans (some whom had been waiting outside since 9 a.m. for the 7:30 p.m. concert) lowered their wails of appreciation for the final band indie-pop sensation Magic Man as the group left the stage. The fans, quite frankly, were confused. At the conclusion of the band’s one hour performance, it had not yet played its arguably best and most famous song, “Paris.” The screaming youths (mostly females) would not let Magic Man leave the venue without one last song.

As the band sheepishly walked out on the stage and the keyboard began the beginning notes of “Paris,” the fans jumped with shouts of joy. It was a perfect way to end a perfect performance a crescendo to the night.

Alex Caplow

The night started off with the tame rock band Panama Wedding, followed by grungy pop band The Griswolds and, rounding out the night was Magic Man’s techno-bopping beats and a lead singer whose good looks made all the girls in the front row swoon.

Two bandmates now technically make up Magic Man Alex Caplow (vocals) and Sam Lee (guitar), but it was only last year that the keyboardist, bassist and drummer left the band. The April 23 show, however, featured stand-in musicians who played the band’s original songs so perfectly that you wouldn’t know the difference.

The spotlight, though, was mostly on Caplow. His lanky frame danced in fluid, sexy motions throughout the set and his passion for the upbeat yet meaningful music only fueled the audience’s zeal. “Apollo” from the band’s album Before the Waves (2014) had the audience swaying, but it was the more well-known songs such as “Texas” and “Catherine” that had the audience members singing at the top of their lungs as the eccentric music couldn’t keep them from dancing.

Christopher Whitehill

The two opening bands for the Hotline Spring North American Tour, Panama Wedding and The Griswolds, had fun, head-bobbing melodies, but their performances were lukewarm (especially compared to Magic Man’s steaming hot stage presence).

Australia-natives The Griswolds have a grungy look (lead singer Christopher Whitehill sports moppy pink hair and hoop earrings), but the band’s sound is a mix of catchy lovebird rhythms such as in “If You Want to Stay” and choppy, shouting tunes such as in “Beware the Dog.”

Talking with audience members who packed in the venue and sacrificed their hearing by standing directly in front of the speakers, about half of the fans came to the show for The Griswolds. Some hadn’t even heard of Magic Man (blasphemy!), but one concert-goer mentioned the show marked his fourth time seeing The Griswolds in concert and he proved his devotion by reciting all the lyrics to each song.

Being a newbie to The Griswold sound, I didn’t fall head over heels for the tunes. Maybe I spent too much time wondering how Willhouse got that shade of pink as a hair color, but the music overall didn’t keep me engaged. They were light and hit the notes perfectly, but my hips were merely swaying back and forth to the band’s carefree sound that didn’t match its hardcore look. It’d be hard to argue that Magic Man didn’t steal the show. It may have been from Caplow’s awe-striking good looks (at one point a group of girls groped his leg while he leaned over the stage), but I rocked out and danced the night away to the flowing, catchy pop beats that make me feel airy, vibrant and, well…magical.  

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