What was planned as an 11 o’clock show time stretched to midnight, but that didn’t suck the energy from the crowd.
Skinny’s Ballroom was crammed, as fans of Calliope Musicals gathered to celebrate the release of the Austin band’s first full-length album.
As lead singer Carrie Fussell glided through their set, I sensed a heavy influence from 60s and 70s music and even conjoured up some mental images of flower power. I wasn’t too surprised to find out that the band has compared their sound to The Mamas & the Papas, Paul Simon, Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. Singer and guitarist Matt Roth even bounced up and down a bit like the boys on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the day.
A hard edge was definitely there. Though Carrie Fussell does have a lovely voice, displayed in one of the group’s slower songs, she didn’t bother with it for most of the night. Instead, most of her vocals reminded me of how I sing when I’m driving on the highway with all my windows down, and I want everyone in the car to hear me sing my favorite song.
Not surprisingly, the night favored songs on the new album, Magic Militia. But the band did play a new song and invited the crowd to participate by shaking little tambourines that had been passed out. Between that and the Jason hockey masks that the band sported for their big entrance, I knew everyone was in for a fun night. It was refreshing to see a band give extra thought to entertaining their audience.
There’s more that sets Calliope Musicals apart. They’ve recuited homeless Austinites to be their real-life Magic Militia. Members of the Magic Militia are given copies of the Magic Militia album to sell, and white t-shirts printed with “Buy a Calliope Musicals CD from me!”
Calliope isn’t taking any money back from the Magic Militia. Whatever profits are made, the homeless get to keep. Meet the Magic Militia on Calliope Musicals’ blog and look for a member on a street corner near you.
This band has been around Austin since 2008, and they’ve built a faithful following with their energetic sound, friendliness and humanitarian spirit. Connect with them today on their Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter.
What do you think of the Magic Militia concept?