Here We Go Magic Takes a Step Forward

October 14th, 2010

Here We Go Magic – The Bowery Ballroom – October 13, 2010

(Photo: Jared Levy)

(Photo: Jared Levy)

Close to a year ago, Here We Go Magic presented themselves as a newly formed quintet, a group constructed around the layered songwriting and folk sensibilities of musician Luke Temple. While the band had a strong head start with Temple’s solo album, the eponymous Here We Go Magic, when they arrived at Music Hall of Williamsburg in January to play a headlining gig, the audience’s expectations derived solely from the album’s representation of a collective sound. Now, after extensively touring behind Here We Go Magic’s second album, Pigeons (though it is technically their first as a fully realized band), their listeners are familiar with the cast rather than just the director. And, on Wednesday night at The Bowery Ballroom, Temple and Co. returned to New York City with an expanded collection of songs and a reformed sense of self.

Most notably, the group went from background to foreground. When once Temple stood singularly as the identity and focal point of Here We Go Magic, now the interplay of the musicians defines their sound. Whether keyboardist Kristina Lieberson’s droning tones color the sound space or bassist Jennifer Turner’s deep groove pulsates on such songs as “Hibernation,” each musician makes a significant contribution. Selections from Pigeons exemplified these cooperative arrangements, however midset, the audience was also treated to a medley of two of Here We Go Magic’s most coherent pop songs, “Fangela” and “Tunnelvision.” Temple appeared to have left the acoustic guitar at home, opting for a Stratocaster, which, matched with his wide brim hat and cowboy boots, made him look like a vision lifted from the Band’s antiquated press photos. The arch of the show peaked and closed on Pigeon’s “Collector,” the height of the band’s pop potential and propulsive songwriting. The next step for this extremely talented group is to focus their energy on songs like “Collector,” which capture a unique sound and, dare I say, magic. —Jared Levy