Magic Man, Ra Ra Riot Ignite Franklin Field

This weekend was a busy one on Penn‘s campus as the two-day spring festival of college revelry, good cheer, and excellent music took over the student body — Spring Fling season. Artists performing for the Fling concert were slowly announced — Magic Man, Ra Ra Riot, and David Guetta finally revealed by late March — and the anticipation was high. Franklin Field was transformed into a stadium venue Friday night with over 8,000 tickets sold and, all told, the show could not be beat.

Boston natives Magic Man opened the show with immense energy. Self-described as synthrock, Magic Man is an incredibly talented quintet of musicians who know how to imbue their performance with sheer joy. It was the perfect opening to the Fling concert, and Magic Man was equally pleased to be there. They happily announced at the end of their set that the crowd at Penn was the biggest show they’d ever played. The band played every song from their 2013 debut EP You Are Here, finishing off with their most successful track, “Paris“. The other half of the set was filled with new songs from their upcoming LP. Though few in the crowd had experienced the music of Magic Man before Fling, the students were enthralled with the performance. The response was incredible. Magic Man knew how to draw in the audience and play a show that engaged all. Their sound is infectious and their energy unbeatable. They’ve harnessed the power of both indie rock and synthpop in one fell swoop and blown the competition out of the water, creating an effortlessly modern sound that sounds genuine.

Next up was Ra Ra Riot, whose charming baroque pop sound was a nice complement to Magic Man. What’s stunning about Ra Ra Riot in concert is the violin and electric cello. Any music lover would thrill to see a violin rock the crowd and Ra Ra Riot pulled it off. While their set wasn’t nearly as energetic as Magic Man’s, the group played a fun, bright, and clean show with the quirky grace Ra Ra Riot is known for. They played the biggest hits from their 2013 LP Beta Love and several songs from The Rhumb Line (2008). Their music has always been refreshing, but whether it makes for an engaging rock show is up for debate.

And, of course, the packed stadium could hardly wait for Guetta to take the stage, high up on his riser with a magnificent light show and accompanying EDM that plays in frat houses across the country on any given Saturday night. Needless to say, his set was a hit. At the start of his show, Guetta told the audience that it was the first time he’d played at an American university, so Penn made a small mark in the EDM history books.

Opinions across campus have been largely unanimous since the concert with glowing reviews of Guetta, disappointment in Ra Ra Riot, and surprise at Magic Man. Magic Man certainly picked up a few fans Friday night (and definitely caught Rock On Philly’s attention!) and Fling got off to an excellent start.

The rest of the weekend was filled with casual shows from student groups and bands across the quad with a captivating and engaging set from New York’s Le1f. All told, the music across campus this weekend — from Friday’s concert to the Led Zeppelin albums blasting out of frat houses on Locust Walk — really commenced spring with perfect fanfare. Magic Man, Ra Ra Riot, and David Guetta were the perfect trio to kick off the final month of school for the students. It’ll be hard to top this concert next spring.


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