Arts concert review

Here to party

Magic City Hippies perform at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston

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Magic City Hippies’ guitarists face off during their show at the Paradise Rock Club Jan. 17.

Magic City Hippies
Paradise Rock Club
Jan. 17

Up-and-coming electronic indie band Magic City Hippies recently released their first album, Modern Animal, since changing their name from Robby Hunter Band over five years ago. Even so, the group has amassed listeners who admire their upbeat, eclectic sound which incorporates elements of pop, hip hop, and funk. To celebrate their new album, Magic City Hippies embarked on a nation-wide tour and stopped in Boston to play at the Paradise Rock Club.

Tim Atlas set the bar high as he opened for Magic City Hippies. His music was rhythmic and guitar-heavy with electronic elements. His sweet, soulful voice was full of emotion, yet his melodies were upbeat and catchy. He had an inexplicable charisma about him that instantly drew me in, and he was incredibly down to earth and excited to perform. Atlas’s set established the feel-good, funky vibe that Magic City Hippies would keep going for the rest of the night.

Magic City Hippies started off the night with some songs from Modern Animal and then branched off into a collection of their top hits of all time. The music was composed of a diverse range of overlapping elements: synthesizers and other electronic sounds, drums, electric guitars, and even snippets of people talking which the lead vocalist recreated live. It was groovy with a strong beat and bass undertone, but varied in style. Some songs featured rapping or heavily-autotuned vocals similar to those of hip hop songs. Others were predominated by sing-along melodies as in typical pop songs or guitar solos reminiscent of other rock bands. One song in particular, “Kamikaze,” seemed to draw inspiration from beach rock or reggae with joyful strumming in the background. Magic City Hippies’ multi-faceted music was definitely ambitious and unique, as was the fact that all five band members contributed to the vocals. However, it did feel like they might have gone a bit too far with genres they hadn’t quite mastered yet. Some of the electronically-altered vocals felt over the top, and at times the rap felt a little tacky without the nonchalance or toughness of most hip hop artists. Seemingly contradictory elements like heavy sound effects and reggae-influenced strumming patterns clashed and left me feeling confused about how to enjoy the song.

The common theme that tied all of Magic City Hippies’ music together was the idea of having a good time. The lead vocalist announced in the beginning of the concert that the group was “here for one reason: to party!” Every song was upbeat and had the crowd dancing and enjoying themselves. Beach rock-inspired songs, the Hawaiian shirts worn by the band members, and yellow rays of light like sunshine almost convinced me that I was in the middle of a fun summer break. The neon pink sign in the back of the stage that read “MCH” and the other brightly colored and flashing lights felt like those you’d see at a dance. The group even finished the concert with a cover of Travis Scott’s song “Goosebumps,” which sounded surprisingly good on the guitar and definitely made me feel like I was at a party. But the band raised the most energy with their own enthusiasm. With seemingly endless stamina, they performed upbeat song after upbeat song. The lead vocalist took few breaks between rapping, singing, and dancing. Meanwhile, the guitarists complemented their fast-paced solos by jumping or falling to their knees while playing.

There’s no doubt that Magic City Hippies was successful in getting the party started. But that was actually one of the reasons that I didn’t absolutely love the concert. While the songs were fun to listen to, I felt that some of the emotion and rawness I appreciate in musical artists were lost in their constant effort to have a blast. The songs sounded different, but the feelings they evoked had little depth and variety beyond liveliness. It seemed the band was entertaining the crowd from a distance, not personally sharing their music with the people in it. I also felt that, at times, in an effort to create a party atmosphere, they began to sound more like the run-of-the-mill pop songs on the radio than the unique style that made me fall in love with them in the first place. While the band members were evidently tireless when it came to nonstop partying, I was a little worn out by the end of the show.

Overall, Magic City Hippies put on a great concert. Their songs were exciting and their energy was unmatchable. While I wish the band had allowed some moments of vulnerability and connection with the audience, there is no denying that I had an incredible time.