By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: The Orpheum, Ybor City/Tampa, Florida–January 25th, 2020
The night started off with a little band from Cincinnati, OH, called PUBLIC – and that’s ALL CAPS, thank you very much! PUBLIC consists of John Vaughn (guitar/lead vox), Ben Lapps (percussion), and Matt Alvarado (bass/synth/vox). Their most noted songs, “Make You Mine” and “One That I Want” are instantly relatable to anyone who has navigated the dire straits of relationships. Theirs was a well-received set, and they showed off a sense of humor with remarks about the role of an opening band. They’re not supposed to make us like them, but I did! And it didn’t take the one cover song they did so “everyone could recognize” their music.
Next up was the winner of the Pachinko Machine result (which might have been rigged, or might not have – you’ll understand why later on), MAGIC GIANT. Beginning in Los Angeles, California in early 2014. The group consists of Austin_Bisnow (lead vocals, cello, synthesizer, percussion), Zambricki Li (viola, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, cello, mandolin, octave mandolin, dobro, lap steel, backing vocals) and Zang (stage name of Brian Zaghi – acoustic guitar, cello, bass, percussion, backing vocals).
Okay, that’s only three members – who are those other people on stage? Never-identified hired guns, doing a solid job playing drums and other instruments when the three members couldn’t play two instruments at once!
And as you might have guessed, there were a lot of different instruments in use, sometimes switched during or between songs, sometimes used at the same time!
Their blend of Indie folk, indie pop, and alternative rock has earned them the appellation, “the most festive band in the festival circuit,” and named one of “10 Artists You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone. Released in 2017, MAGIC GIANT’s initial single “Set on Fire” broke the top 25 on the US Alternative chart and top 5 on Spotify’s US Viral chart; its second single “Window” leaped into the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot AC and Adult Pop charts; and the acoustic EP debuted in the iTunes Alternative top 25.
And their live shows are becoming more and more crowded, with hits like “Disaster Party” (known in Florida as a Hurricane Party) inspiring mass dance-and-sing alongs. The crowd was more than just warmed up when, without a break, American Authors took over the stage!
American Authors currently consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Zac Barnett, lead guitarist and banjoist James Adam Shelley, bassist Dave Rublin, and drummer Matt Sanchez. The switch was so seamless I think many in the audience didn’t realize there was a different band on stage! Originally called The Blue Pages from 2006-2012, the band changed their name after they relocated from Boston to Brooklyn. Since then, they’ve become one of the industry’s rising stars as well as making inroads into the movie, television, advertising, and gaming industries. They’ve appeared in a Bar Rescue episode, their songs have been featured in movies and trailers like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Delivery Man, and How to Train Your Dragon 2, TV shows including The Vampire Diaries, commercials for Lowe’s, Hyundai, and in Video games Guitar Hero Live and Konami.
They’ve played festivals including Lollapalooza, SXSW Music Festival, Firefly Music Festival, Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, Bunbury Music Festival, Freakfest, BottleRock Napa Valley, Keloorah, Pukkelpop, and Polartec Big Air at Fenway, Vans Warped Tour, and opening the Walmart shareholders concert.
Releases include 3 studio albums, 6 EPs, and 12 singles, and 19 music videos. Their first album, Oh, What a Life, hit #3 on the US Rock charts. The single “Best Day of My Life” hit #1 on US Adult and #2 on US Rock charts.
And now they’re collaborating with MAGIC GIANT on the “Band of Brothers Tour,” which brings us to the next segment – Both bands on stage at the same time, exchanging positions, trading vocals, and in general having a damn good time, which carried over to the audience! To be honest, I often couldn’t remember which musicians were with which band originally, looking through the photos I saw both lead singers leading the other band’s musicians, sometimes half and half, drummers switching places, all in all two great bands forming one Band of Brothers!
Don’t miss thi tour! Oh, and now you can text the band, or even leave them a voicemail! MAGIC GIANT: 323-310-1489, American Authors 917-540-3019