“This is a new song. It will never be released. Or recorded.” And with that, at their last show ever, Mrs. Magician launched into a sublimely-written garage pop gem destined for obscurity. Why they decided to break up, we may never know – and does it even matter? One thing’s for certain: They went out on top.
The band crept up on San Diego, seemingly out of nowhere. One minute they weren’t here – the next, they were winning SDMAs and touring with Cults and Hot Snakes. They formed in 2010, and for their debut single release, gave the world “There is No God." It caught fire, John Reis’ ear (of Rocket From the Crypt fame) and suddenly the quartet dropped their first full-length album on Swami Records in the form of 2012’s near-perfect Strange Heaven. They released another collection of scuzzy, contagious, reverb-drenched pop this year with September’s B-Sides (which made my Top 13 San Diego Albums of 2013 List, by the way). Everything seemed to be A-OK in Magician land, right? Wrong.
A couple weeks ago, while about to embark on a short west coast tour, singer/guitarist Jacob Turnbloom posted the equivalent of a music scene atom bomb on their Facebook page about their upcoming Dec. 27 show: “So... This is gonna be our last show. Thanx for being a part of our band for the past 4 years. Peace doods. RIP MRS MAGICIAN.”
Fans, like myself, were understandably shaken. Even Steven Oira, former drummer for the band (and front man for local indie rock band Buddy Banter) was taken aback: “I was completely shocked. I was on tour with them at the time, and I thought Jake was joking. But it turns out it wasn’t a joke.”
After drowning my sorrows with an unspeakable amount of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey, my girlfriend and I walked over to the Soda Bar for their farewell show. I’d seen them at least twice before – my introduction being a brief, 30-minute set at the Casbah, which found Turnbloom charging headfirst into the crowd mid-song on some knucklehead giving him grief.
For their final show though, things went a little more smoothly and the band was in the finest form I’d heard. You could cut the energy in the air with a knife. Cory Stier attacked his drums with brutal ferocity while Michael Farmer, a relatively new addition to the band, complimented the songs perfectly with chimey 12-string electric guitar, organ, and glockenspiel.
But it was Turnbloom’s vicious vocals and commanding guitar playing that powered the songs to their much-dreaded close. Songs like “The Spells,” “Despicable Things” and the excellent, newly-released “Friday Night” brought forth a frenetic response from the packed-to-the-gills venue, many of the songs inspiring crowd surfing – which, at Soda Bar, is no small feat. Even though we were all shouting along and raising our glasses to every number, we all knew each song brought them closer to the inevitable end.
Truth be told, for a farewell show – it was not a somber affair. The guys in the band were in fine spirits; joking around with the crowd, smiling and laughing with each other amid all the chaos. But finally, around 12:30 a.m., guitarist Tommy Garcia took to the microphone and said, “This will be the last song we ever play.”
Mrs. Magician tore into “Dead ‘80s,” perhaps their most well-known song, and while the entire crowd at that small music club on El Cajon Blvd. lost their collective minds singing along with “Move on / Get a better job / Get a better life / Don’t shed another tear / Then I said / F--- the world,” it became evident that this was the perfect ending to a truly magical band.