Since the release of Mercurial World (2021), Magdalena Bay has been my new favorite band. When they announced their first headlining tour, “excited” was an understatement. All the better that they’d be playing at Black Cat in DC.
The night exceeded my expectations as soon as I walked in. The opener, none other than Cecile Believe. Live, her vocals are stunning, like getting hit with a bright light. Her voice, otherworldly, angelic, transcending human sound. Whether you were familiar with her music or not, Believe was mesmerizing, truly captivating the crowd in one of the best opening performances I’ve seen.
Before long, the green screen on the stage lit up, followed by a computer keyboard stage right. Mercurial World’s now iconic vaporwave hands flickered on screen alongside cheers from the crowd. An iridescent head appeared.
“Mercurial World experience,” it said. “Now please be quiet. Matthew is sleeping.”
The duo then ran onstage to begin the show with, of course, “The End,” a track highlighting the band’s absurd existentialism off the bat.
Throughout the entire performance, the green screen behind the band flashed with glitched-out, tech-brutalist gifs, videos, and images. The duo wore matching outfits: futuristic, form-fitting geometric suits. They seemed suited for movement, a feature vocalist Mica Tenenbaum took full advantage of, bouncing and dancing around to every song.
It was a pleasure to witness Magdalena Bay flesh out the sonic environment they built in Mercurial World for a live audience. The experience like a dystopian planet I would actively choose to live on.
A highlight, of course, was “Follow the Leader,” when Tenenbaum transformed into a hypnotizing despot with the help of her ominous rabbit mask. The live performance of the track highlighted, if only slightly, the chilling nature underneath much of Magdalena Bay’s dynamic dance beats. Despite even the most apocalyptic content, nearly everyone was dancing and singing along.
The band also performed a killer mashup of “Killshot” and “Killshot (Slowed + Reverb),” a track which gained viral status on TikTok last year, often set to what the band would describe as “sexy anime.”
The entire performance was a bombardment of light and color, perfectly complementing Magdalena Bay’s stimulating, super-saturated sound. The duo injected a tangible enthusiasm into the room, somehow just as infectious as their beats. If one thing’s for certain, the place was on (Fire).
And it didn’t end there. Following the show, the duo stood at the merch table until every single person had cleared the venuine. With earnest excitement, they waited to meet and take pictures with as many fans as possible, a testament to Magdalena Bay’s genuine passion for performing. I certainly feel lucky to have felt a share of that passion at Black Cat.
They can’t come back to DC soon enough!
Listen to Cecile Believe on Spotify here.
+ View our pictures from the show below!