On the back of the release of their second well received EP, Brighton-based band The Magic Gang returned to Birmingham to headline a show at the Institute. They headline this tour after playing Ynot, Reading and Leeds festivals in the summer and showed no signs of needing a break with their exceptional 14 song set list.
From seeing The Magic Gang more times than I care to remember, I am always surprised at how excited I get before their gigs but I know that my excitement is always justified by a good live performance. This night was no exception.
Walking out to a roar of a crowd that varied in age, The Magic Gang opened with ‘Lady, Please’ encouraging mosh pits, a sight that was not alien to this band. The fun guitar sounds and easy lyrics of the songs were sung back to the band, with lead singer Jack Kaye prompting this by facing his mic towards a crowd surfer. The happy atmosphere was even felt by the security, who had a tough time controlling the crowd but found it equally as hilarious watching bodies being thrown around with such intent.
The biggest crowd reaction was generated by ‘Jasmine’, the fan favourite off the band’s first EP. Drummer Paeris opened up this song with a slow drum beat that seemed to go on for an age as we waited for Jack to come in with his vocals, the crowd itching to shout the lyrics at the top of their lungs. The set list included early singles such as ‘Alright’ and ‘No Fun’ and my personal favourite, the unreleased ‘She Won’t Ghost’. The band played a strong show and continued to increase their growing live reputation. They also have the very hyper crowd to thank for making the show a success as words cannot justify how sweaty and exhausted it left them, with scenes of fans taking regular water breaks to the annoyance of the lone bar man.
The highlight of the night came when the band seemed to end their set, only to re-emerge a few minutes later to a restless crowd demanding they play ‘Shallow’. I do not blame these lads for giving the packed room what they wanted as the pleas for ‘Shallow’ became deafening. They got their money’s worth no doubt by this point.
The band are open about their fondness for playing Birmingham and this gig looked to have only confirmed their respect for the brummie crowds, tweeting ‘Oh shit Birmingham’ straight after the sweaty show had finished. The Magic gang had recently played Birmingham in 2015 and 2016 on headline tours and also played there supporting much-loved indie bands Wolf Alice and Swim Deep.
Seeing The Magic Gang progress from the small Birmingham venue of The Sunflower Lounge to smashing a headline slot at the Institute, in such a short space of time, proves them to be one of the most exciting up-and-coming live indie bands of 2016. With repeated questions raised about when they will release a debut album, The Magic Gang are generating the much-needed hype and following to become a success. It is clear why record label giants Warner Brothers have signed up this band.
A review by Jack Wager.