By MIKE CHAIKEN
The life of an opening act is not easy.
More times than not, you’re an unknown quantity to the majority of the audience. And you really have to work hard to grab the fans’ attention as they fall in the auditorium in drips and drabs to catch the headliner.
While Magic Man, which is touring behind its latest album “Before the Waves,” might not be a household name to many casual music fans, it’s clear from the band’s performance as an opener to Panic! At the Disco at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Aug. 2, the group from Massachusetts has what it takes to headline. And for many fans at the show, Magic Man clearly isn’t an unknown quantity, they are already a fave.
Several examples of Magic Man’s career status unfolded in front of me at the Mohegan.
Two young women, upon learning there were two empty and closer seats two rows ahead of me, eagerly departed their own ticketed seats and grabbed the vacant ones. And once the lights dimmed for Magic Man, they were visibly excited – as they danced and cheered—that they were that much nearer to their favorite act.
Secondly, there was a group of teens who arrived in front of me midway through Magic Man’s set. They were breathless upon their arrival as they had dashed into the auditorium. They were clearly and visibly disappointed they had missed a few songs by Magic Man. But no sooner did they arrive than they began to sing Magic Man’s songs words for word. And when the group’s current hit “Paris” sounded through the speakers, the group of young fans were bouncing up and down excitedly shouting the words at the top of their lungs.
If this weren’t enough to offer evidence that Magic Man has arrived, all you had to do was look at the general admission pit in front of the stage at the Mohegan. There was a sea of arms raised high in the air swaying in unison to the group’s music. Even Walk the Moon, who followed Magic Man, or the headliners Panic! At The Disco were unable to generate such a uniformed act of adulation from the crowd.
On stage, Magic Man definitely proved worthy of the audience’s allegiance. They rippled with energy on stage. Musically, the songs kicked serious booty and were eminently hummable. The members also were personable in their interactions with the crowd. Singer Alex Caplow had the archetypal good looks and magnetism of any good leading man. And the group as a whole were just good fun.
Although the group on record is limited to the duo of Caplow and Sam Vanderhoop Lee, they augment themselves with three other musicians on stage. Although converting the sometimes claustrophobic electronic arrangements of the studio to an arrangement worthy of the stage could have been dicey, the quintet handled the task with aplomb. The songs from “Before the Waves” sounded somewhat different on stage than the record, but they were definitely new and improved versions.
As is the case typically for an opener, not everyone was a fan at the beginning of Magic Man’s performance. But by the time they offered up “Paris,” if you had not been won over by this band, you were clearly not a fan of good, melodic, high energy music.
I give Magic Man’s performance opening for Panic! At The Disco at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Aug. 2 three-and-a-half stars out of four.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.