Vanderslice, his drummer Matthias Bossi, and keyboardist Ian
Bjornstad took the stage first to play a few songs. By the second song
they'd made their first mistake. A few seconds in, Vanderslice started laughing and stopped the band. He had messed up and explained it
would have been fine, only Bjornstad hadn't caught on to the mistake in
time to redeem the song. "This shit's gonna get pro real fast," laughed
Vanderslice. Once the orchestra came out, it sure did.
packed the stage. The drum kit sat in the middle, with Vanderslice and
Bjornstad pushed to the front. On the left sat a crowd of violins and
violas, on the right cellos and stand up basses, and in the back
vocalists and horns. All had chairs, stands and microphones, making for
a very cluttered stage.
The orchestral sound melted into
Vanderslice's beautiful voice. Each song sounded more full and
rich with the hollow accompaniment of the string bass, bold punch of the
trumpet, and the harmony between the lead vocals and the all-female
choir singing backup. The guitar fused with the warble of the violins
and violas. The cellos played fiercely, giving texture to each song.
the orchestra sounded great, improved execution would have drastically
changed the performance. Not all venues are acoustically suitable for an
orchestra without extensive planning, and not all instrumentations
provide the necessary balance of sounds. Many of the wind sounds were
lost. The shape of the french horn caused its sound to push straight up,
nearly missing the audience completely. The woodwinds were
unintelligible, the sound unable to penetrate the densely packed stage
in the first place. Flute and clarinet arrangements were lost in a jumble of
chairs, stands, and bodies even with microphones all over the stage. The
vocals, cello and bass almost overpowered the rest of the
orchestra.Despite the acoustic tragedy, the performance was thrilling
to watch and an innovative concept. Perhaps I can resurrect my
adolescent dreams of marrying my classical training to my indie rock
tendencies. Magik*Magik, you keep childhood band dreams alive.
Personal bias: I think it's obvious. I'm a big ol'
band geek. My issues with acoustics and instrumentation come from years
of nerdy symphony and wind ensembles. Not everyone noticed, I'm sure.
Random detail: Vanderslice said this was the first time the band played the song "When It Hits My Blood" live.
By the way: Magik*Magik has a show with Tin Hat at the JCC on 2/19.