Although Bluebird Theater’s stage held only Slow Magic, a laptop and his ominously glowing drum set, the crowd that was swiftly packing itself into the venue on Thursday night was fueled by a rush of adrenaline, anxiety and excitement for what was in store. Having recently discovered Slow Magic through a mutual friend, I had been counting the days leading up to the performance after hearing about it. With his Facebook bio baring only a single sentence, ‘Music by your imaginary friend’, it’s safe to say that the mystery of Slow Magic was bound to be unveiled once seeing him in the flesh.
I’m always won over when an artist adds unexpected factors to their live show; it shows the effort in actually wanting to win over and entertain their audiences with their craft. Donning a vibrantly painted neon Zebra mask and fringed vest, it was immediately clear that the visual aspect of Slow Magic would be just as enticing as his musical genius. Starting off his set with the enchanting and delicate intro track from his album, ‘Still Life’, the crowd instantly fell into a mesmerizing groove as all eyes followed the producer’s moves on stage.
I was taken aback by just how energetic and powerful Slow Magic’s performance was in person. Although his productions all carry healthy doses of both minimalistic and cinematic synths, when played live the songs delved themselves even deeper into my chest, with each thud of his drums matching the fervent beating of my heart. As the drums glowed from tickle me pink to a deep red, he played another favorite of mine, simultaneously whipping the crowd into a dancing frenzy as he began to drop the initial beats of ‘Girls’.
Slow Magic’s energy became truly infectious as his set rose in momentum, with the producer jumping frantically on beat to each tribal synth, clanging along in harmony with not one, but two drum sticks in each hand – there wasn’t a single pair of still legs in the venue. Almost without warning, the Zebra masked enigma suddenly picked up one of his tom tom’s and jumped into the crowd, letting himself become completely surrounded by lovingly face painted fans. Showering the crowd in heart symbols made with his hands, it created a truly beautiful sight when the crowd responded warmly with hearts of their own. Slow Magic made his way back to the stage, leaving gaggles of black-framed, flannel clad indie kids reeling from the intimate experience of having the producer banging along his drums in the thick of the crowd. Taking an impromptu break to the side stage, the crowd kept their eyes glued, loyally awaiting his return.
Choosing to announce the end of his break by whipping out a long, deafening drum solo, he brought ‘On Yr Side’ into the sound system, chaotically drumming and bobbing his head. Slowly working in his remix of Destiny Child’s ‘Say My Name’, the two songs paired with one another like a melancholic dream in layers of floaty, yearning vocals. Bringing ‘Say My Name’ to a triumphant close, Slow Magic took his performance several notches higher by continuing his drumming onto his midi pad after finally pausing to put his drumsticks to rest. Though I had thought the show was, in a sense, over (he had jumped into the crowd twice, and stood like the king of the world atop his tom-tom’s just a bit earlier), I was far from being right.
I had only looked down for a moment before realizing the stage was holding four other performers now, all wearing different masks of their own. The new visitors to the stage eyed Slow Magic’s drum set curiously, walking the stage in wonder and gesturing to one another. Slow Magic motioned them to his drums, and handed each of them their own stick to begin following the beat as he kept the rhythm. Playfully, the scene began to unfold as the meaning behind Slow Magic finally came full circle: we were all taking part in the long forgotten part of ourselves that indulges in simple pleasures, such as creating music with your imaginary friend. It was in this blissfully defining moment that I was truly grateful for having the chance to finally experience Slow Magic live, as a solid night of musical therapy is hard to find and always appreciated!
Thank you to Slow Magic and the Bluebird Theater for an incredible night of music!
All photos shot with love by Lauren Pinkney of Lo Motion Photography for Compose Yourself Mag.