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Magic Giant // Live @ Top Cats // 4.6.23

Article & photos by: Linda Carlson


Cincinnati, OH – You can always count on Magic Giant to bring a much-needed breath of fresh, positive air to an otherwise complicated world.  The band’s current Die With Zero Tour emphasizes the band’s approach to living life to its fullest, without regret.

Magic Giant, touring with American Authors in February 2020, was the last band I photographed prior to the pandemic lockdown that crushed the live music industry until concerts very slowly resumed perhaps 16 months later.  That show, with its infectious energy, full of laughter, smiles and dancing (on stage and in the crowd), was etched in my mind as a perfect memory of a perfect night.

And then the stages darkened.  For too long.

It was with some anticipation that I looked forward to experiencing Magic Giant once again, more than three years later.  This time around, at Top Cats, the stage and setting were more intimate, which can be a benefit for a Magic Giant show.  The band’s engagement with their fans is more tangible this way.

Magic Giant

Lead singer Austin Bisnow and guitarist Zang were welcome, familiar sights, but missing from the stage was multi-instrumentalist Zambricki Li, who had been with the band from its inception.  Li’s status with the band is unclear – several online resources still list him as a band member, but his image is not on this tour’s marketing material.  It’s a testament to Li’s skills that three musicians, Jesse Schuster (bass), Lenny The Ox (drums) and Austin “Stino” Drake (trumpet) are touring with the band to help fill the void.

Fans were clearly excited to see the band perform.  First on the docket, though, was Nashville’s indie folk Hello Darling, fronted by Grace Russell (vocals, keyboard) and Patrick Armould (guitar), who gave a very soulful and lilting performance, supported by Riley O’Donnell and Amber Sawyer.

Hello Darling

Next was creative genius Mobley, who puts on a one-man show that is one part instrumental, one part vocal, one part visual, one part audience engagement, and all parts creative.  Entering the stage with a computer monitor covering his head was a novel approach to an intro.  The entire set was stellar.


Obviously, the crowd was by now quite warmed up for Magic Giant, and the band performed in their classic, carefree style, with their mic stands draped in knotted fabric strands for a hipster, indie feel that is pure Magic Giant.  Bisnow frequently leaned into the crowd, coming over the barricade gate to welcome and acknowledge fans.  And Zang… always a pleasure and a pro. The band is promoting their 2022 album, The Valley.  According to Bisnow*: “We recorded our first album, In The Wind, between shows on a solar-powered mobile recording studio. We recorded our second studio album [The Valley] during the pandemic while going through lots of changes like taking our careers completely independent for the first time since we started. This EP is about finding hope even when it seems daunting or impossible.”

Magic Giant

A Magic Giant show is always a refreshing escape.  Check their website for touring info:

Also, be sure to check out the carousel of pictures below for many more photos from the Cincinnati show!

*quote excerpt from the band’s website.

Linda Carlson
Linda has been photographing people since she was ten. Forever intrigued by the complex beauty of the human form, she brings the eye of a portraitist to the unpredictability and spectacle of the concert scene.