You don’t get this kind of immediacy in music much anymore, not in a band that can play with such precision. You rarely see a five-piece just a few years out of college playing with the gifted focus of consummate professionals while also throwing themselves around stage with the abandon of kids at a punk show in someone’s friend’s basement. Magic Man — and particularly frontman Alex Caplow — leave themselves on the stage, roughing up their tight, euphoric pop anthems and giving up everything as they simultaneously invite you in.
In a way the band’s been two decades in the making. Alex and his childhood friend Sam Lee met in preschool grew up playing in bands together and stayed close through college, when they started a new project while working on a farm in Europe one summer. Now they’re living a particularly lucid version of that childhood dream — playing summer amphitheaters all over the country with three of their friends (Gabe Goodman, Justine Bowe, Joey Sulkowski), their debut single “Paris” a staple on alternative radio, a publishing deal with Dr. Luke. It’s telling of the unlikely but inherent intimacy of their hook-heavy rock songs that their fans are superbly loyal; the atmosphere at each performance is one of vitality and recognition, the audience responding as if they were witnessing the Bruce Springsteen of their era, those stadium-size guitar riffs reimagined for a generation raised on synth.
Magic Man’s music at its best creates a sense of weightless promise. Album standouts like “Waves” and “Catherine” are effortless, epic and delivered without pretense, and the band’s full-length debut Before The Waves is built on a rare mix of innocence and experience. It — along with Magic Man’s widening tour orbit — serves as something of a statement of intent for the band: they’re here to keep doing this, turning every show into something singular, reckless, comfortable, and real.