Photography by Daisy Fromkin and Videography by Olivier Zahm
The late afternoon crowd at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix Arizona is a diverse bag of mixed nuts. Some answering trivia to win tickets, others there for the show later on, all bursting with energy fueled by the perfect fall weather. I waited on the patio with Colin Lorne the tour manager to meet the band, drinking in the people, and some iced tea. With a flurry of activity I was encased in a hug from the lead singer Austin Bisnow. “We are huggers” He says to my expression that conveyed my confusion and joy in equal measure.
Heading into the green room with my Videographer Oliver Zahm, I was immediately greeted with laughter and smiles from the group that had been on tour for weeks. I could feel the chill vibe and the word I would use to describe them would be “real”. No character or play-acting needed, what you see is who they are and this is refreshing.
MAGIC GIANT is an American indie folk band that came together in Los Angeles in 2014, they have already been identified by RollingStone as an “Artist you need to know in 2017”. The group consists of Austin Bisnow, (lead vocals, cello, synthesizer, percussion), Zambricki Li (banjo, fiddle, viola, cello, harmonica, mandolin, octave mandolin, acoustic guitar, dobro, lap steel, backing vocals) and Zang (acoustic guitar, cello, bass, percussion, backing vocals). Interviewing the band they discussed the importance of connecting with one another and the diversity of their backgrounds allowing them to create something entirely new. If I was asked to describe it? The Avett Brothers and the Chemical Brothers have a baby and chose to have it raised by the world.
They released a self titled EP Magic Giant in 2015 and subsequent album In the Wind in 2017. With each album purchased they will plant a tree. (Yes, you read that correctly.) The entire album recorded outside to further find the solidification with our earth. When I asked if they were activists they humbly stated that they felt they didn’t do enough to earn that title. Again refreshing in an industry saturated with “Look at me and my circle” and on-stage theatrics.
The show starts, I’m already half enamored with the artists, their music is sweet and melodic with lyrics that remind us all of what it was like to be in love for the first time. The emotion pours from them in waves of sound; breaking our hearts, then they hand you back all the pieces, in the right order. They remind us that hope is essential, love is forever and time is as precious as our sacred earth.
They hit their songs like a tsunami, an initial crash of activity, sound and passion. Followed by a slow pull that draws you in, to the point you don’t even realize what you are witnessing, you just know you love it. Instruments are everywhere cellos, banjos, harmonicas, and drums speckled within the more traditional variety.
They pounce on the stage each with a unique perspective on fashion and throw off layers as needed. Jumping, dancing, almost flying around like feral squirrels, I did my best to chase them down with my camera. Zambricki Li mesmerizing the audience with a level of skill usually only honed by musicians twice his experience, Zang, solidly dynamic like second nature, I witnessed him become one with his guitar, and Austin with hypnotic-energy that brought not only clarification, but slips into your conscious and embraces you from within, like a mood that passes through you.
I turned my attention to the audience and watched them in an almost a cult-like haze as they chat for an acoustic song; the band agreed, if they can become silent, an instant hush filled the venue. Spotlighted like a couples 1st dance as husband and wife, I watched them form a small circle in the audience and draw everyone in.
This band is pure heart. Check them out and feel the love.
My recommendation: Find a way to see this band before they start playing bigger venues, you wont be sorry.
What was my first solid impression of the band? “Holy Shit, this is fantastic, its like Disneyland with more parking and less children!”
Songs to Listen: Window and Set on Fire
Observations: Diverse crowd of all ages and many man-buns
Random Comment: (from the man who let me slip past to the front of the stage) “You’re just a little one aren’t you.”
Check out their webpage and TOUR DATES here: MAGIC GIANT