The Magic Gang / Live at the 02, Birmingham / 02/10/2016
It’s been just over two years since I originally saw the magic gang whilst they supported Swim Deep; nobody was familiar with them and the only person singing their lyrics could have been their mum. From then until now they’ve been to Jamaica recording an EP, and played a number of raucous house parties in their home town of Brighton. Now they have a large following of barely-legal teens clad up in their converse and mom jeans. Being a post-teen alone could be an aetiological reason for adoring this band, since their lyrics cover a lot of the angst and issues we experience as young people.
Magic Gang’s gigs are purely magical in their entirety, even down to the support acts being carefully chosen to complement the crowd. “Island” warm up the room initially, their grinding fuzz broken up by a calm serenity and hush tones which are sure to get your shoulders swaying. Next it’s the turn of band “Babeheaven” who’s soulful funk leave you twinging at the hip as you twist and tap your toes. This audiological foreplay leaves us with just enough time before the main performance to have a quick cig’ down the fire escape and grab another pint.
Entering the room again just as the lights dim and the room falls to silence before the band waltz out to new-ish track “Lady Please”, the eclectic crowd of youth lights up with glee, greeted by an applause and chants of “The Magic Gang Bang” being both a nod to the wistful charm of their songs and a satirical play on words. Other songs from their EP such as “Jasmine” entice the crowd into a synchronised bop, overlaid with the occasional sporadic crowd-surfer, their shoe gaze chime in somewhat of a juxtaposition to what is happening in this room at this very moment.
New released “All This Way” is definitely one of the most favoured songs of the set as it acts almost in retrospect, written on the cornerstone as you begin to pick apart the relationship you’re getting into, an aspect of paranoia or simplistic observations settling themselves under your skin.
Much of their second EP follows this theme whilst keeping a beat that in complete contrast is filled with melodic overtones and clean riffs. Earlier hits such as “No Fun” and “Shallow” which seem to have more of a grunge influence cause absolute chaos in this small, intimate, almost cavern like venue; bodies skewing sight as they float over head, narrowly avoiding security as the front bellows their bodies backwards, away from the sprawling hands of the high-viz fun interferers.
The Magic Gang are not a force to be reckoned with as they’ve gradually earnt and accumulated an almost cult like following that will sing along to whichever track you throw at them. Staggering and saturated in sweat or stella we stagger from the door back onto our coach, left in a state of euphoria and regret that we cannot live that experience every waking minute of our day.
Words: Henry Calvert
Photo: Zoe Shannon