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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, December 06, 2023

It’s Magdalena Bay’s Mercurial World, we’re just living in it

Synth-pop duo Magdalena Bay brought the crowd with them on a journey into their surreal hyper-online multiverse of secrets on Nov. 6. Originally from Miami, the group is now based in Los Angeles, where they have gained a cult-like following from fans captured by their mixed media approach to creating. 

Magdalena Bay was preceded on stage by BAYLI, an artist and songwriter from Brooklyn. It was clear that the masses had come to see the main act, but it didn’t stop them from enjoying the energetic show BAYLI put on. The singer knew how to work the crowd and by the end of her set she captured more than a few new fans. 

The couple behind Magdalena Bay consists of singer-songwriter Mica Tenenbaum and producer Matthew Lewin. Since meeting in high school, the pair has spent their time working together in a combination of remote collaboration and a shared obsession with Y2K style websites. These influences are evidently clear through the kitschy backgrounds and images that rapidly flashed behind the group as they performed on stage. 

Bright colors and strobing lights were further enhanced by the recurring presence of Chaeri, a floating AI head that periodically appeared on the screen to share interactions with Tenenbaum and the audience. Tenenbaum routinely paused her singing to ask Chaeri questions. The most notable of which was when the AI broadcasted secrets sent in by members of the audience before the show for everyone to see and hear.

Little moments like this as well as carefully crafted inside jokes between the artists and the crowd made the night feel like a cult initiation. Even a quick glance at the audience made it clear that the room was full of dedicated fans who knew the ins and outs of Magdalena Bay and their show. Some fans even took it to the next level, enhancing the energy by bringing in props typically expected at a rave. 

The song “Chaeri,” not to be confused with Chaeri the AI, was met with wild enthusiasm from the spectators gathered in the Majestic Theatre. Tennebaum raised the excitement even further by leading the crowd in a chant to the catchy lyrics “Three, four, down to floor / lose control, little more.” Both the singer and audience lost themselves in the music as they sang and danced along.

Throughout the evening the frontwoman kept everyone present engaged through her hypnotic movements and interactions. From leaving the stage to walk through the crowd herself as she sang, to donning an almost frightening bunny mask part way through the show, Tennebaum kept viewers on their toes as they tried to anticipate her next move. 

The show reached its climax when the duo and audience decided AI Chaeri was ready to get their own body aka an old mannequin cleverly DIYed into a moving robot with video screens and wires. As the duo danced around the stage, the DIY robot turned in place and waved to the audience. 

During the encore Magdalena Bay continued to delight the audience, playing classic fan favorites. During “Killshot” — a thumping beat from their EP — the band showed anime fancams on the screen as a nod to the song's unexpected virality. A few months ago on TikTok a slowed and reverb version of their hit song blew up as people used it to showcase their favorite characters online. 

Ending the night with the deceivingly named song “The Beginning” the group left the crowd satisfied yet excited. Both Tenebaum and her partner Lewin were present at the merch table after the show ended greeting fans, taking pictures and handing out autographs. 

Even if Magdalena Bay’s music isn’t for you, you are sure to be captured by their enigmatic presence and energy in all aspects of what they do.

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