magic leaves [2009]

Swedish American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
7 May 2009

Sometimes, just a few seconds into a set, it’s pretty clear that a band is not for you. It’s not personal. There are most certainly no hard feelings (nor soft, for that matter). You even enjoy various discrete elements of the performance, but overall…

Magic Leaves seem to be, all at once loungey, soul-inspired, and California surfhippie. It’s fun, it’s cheeky. In my mind, it’s cheeseball. “When you find love, I hope that love finds you too too too too too” was one lyric that struck me initially. And then, later, in introducing a song: “This song is called ‘Feel Good’…and I hope it achieves its purpose”. I find it difficult to take this seriously.

Of course, that’s probably the entire issue right there. Maybe I just like music, and the playing of it, to be taken more seriously. The end product itself doesn’t have to be “serious”, but the undertaking, the process, in my mind, should not be taken lightly. Some of my favorite bands produce light, care-free pop. And yet there always seems to be a concentrated effort behind it all.

If your friend leans over at some point during the show and says: “The other context in which this would be enjoyable is at a free concert, like in the park on a nice day”, it means something.

I think it means that these guys like to have fun and play music, in no particular order. And the thing is, they’re good at it. The musicianship, as a whole, was sound and the lead singer (clearly an Al Green fan) has a really solid, soulful voice.

When it comes down to it, I think there were just too many seemingly disparate things going on at once in each song. Or maybe there were just too many things that I don’t particularly like. “Innocuous”, my friend offered, towards the end of the set. I would have to agree.