Amps blared and crowds shrieked at the Crescent Ballroom’s TWRP and Magic Sword concert on May 17th. Despite being in the final leg of their tour, both bands brought immense energy to the small yet packed venue, using live instruments to deliver on their respective unique brands of electronic synth music.
Opening act trio Magic Sword bared nothing but arms, donning opaque silver masks and black cloaks even amidst the sweaty combination of Phoenix heat, shining lights and screaming fans.
But if the trio felt the heat, they certainly didn’t show it.
Magic Sword transitioned seamlessly through instrumental track after instrumental track. Their hour-long opening set was filled with their most popular songs which ended with "In The Face Of Evil", off of their first studio album “Volume 1.” The experience felt like a mix of Daft Punk and prog-rock instrumental solos that never seemed to stop.
The lighting set-up accompanying the show seemed to come alive for the band’s set as much as the audience. Half second rests in sound were partnered with perfectly timed flashes of white only for deep purples, blues and pinks to return a moment later, gravitating the audience back into the track. Using lights and their titular glowing blue plastic sword, Magic Sword captivated the crowd and, no doubt, gained some new fans— us included.
A 30 minute pause left the audience teeming with anticipation for the next act of the night. Conversation hummed within the tightly packed crowd spanning audience members from all walks of life. The drone of chatter shifted back to a roar within an instant as TWRP took the stage clad in colorful sci-fi inspired costumes.
TWRP’s set was as much a comedy routine as it was a musical performance, introducing new prop/virtual stage manager GROBB (Good ROBot Boy) from the get-go. Its inclusion in the show added jokes and skits that kept the audience on their toes and laughing constantly. A straight-faced bright orange projection deemed a “miracle of science,” and product of a fictional corporate sponsorship, GROBB sets the same lighthearted, fun, and groovy expectations familiar to many TWRP fans.
Frontman, keyboardist and singer Doctor Sung led the charge, inviting audience participation and occupying the stage with an electrifying charisma that seemed almost unrehearsed. Taking an especially major role in brand new, unreleased songs, “Birth of GROBB” and “VHS,” he brought fans into the songs effortlessly by leading timed chants, claps and cheers.
But even more impressive was Sung’s ability to step back and let other band members take the lead.
With signature talk box vocals aside, “VHS” featured a groovy but consistent staccato bassline from Commander Meouch kept the audience on beat with high fretted guitar solos from Lord Phobos with timely snare drums from Havve Hogan. Another standout was “Starlight Brigade,” TWRP’s most popular song by any metric. The 2018 studio album release features Dan Avidan, the lead singer of “Ninja Sex Party.” In his absence, TWRP replicated Avidan’s lead vocals in their personal robotic talkbox style, adding a new feature to the hit.
Encore song “Terraform” saw the return of both TWRP and Magic Sword to the stage, which showcased the partnership between both groups and made Magic Sword just more than an opening act.
Overall, each TWRP member effortlessly balanced their roles with the others to deliver a near-perfect performance as an electronic tag-team. In a combined embrace of the old with the new, TWRP gave every fan in attendance everything that they came for and more.