A moment of shame: I discovered Magdalena Bay through TikTok. I made it through 2020 and almost the entirety of 2021 (all of the sourdough starters, cottagecore pining, and even that one month everyone was obsessed with sea shanties) before I finally cracked and downloaded the app. As a young millennial, once I was in, I quickly tapped into many creators’ Y2K nostalgia. A video appeared on my For You page that instantly mesmerized me.
The acting was Lynchian; the aesthetic was how logging into the internet felt in 2002. Dial-up sounds and bright colors, 7-inch thick monitors. “Let’s watch TV,” a man said to a woman.
“Oh no, I’m scared after last time.” She turned to the camera.
“Everything will be okay,” he promised, moments before she was sucked into the technicolor screen and I into “Halfway,” which I listened to on repeat for the next month, unable to get it out of my head.
This is the effect Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin have created with Mercurial World, Magdalena Bay’s first album after a string of EPs. It feels at once overwhelmingly modern and also like a fever dream I can barely remember from when I was 10.
The tour was no different. Before they emerged onto the stage, our first interaction was with a projected robotic face whose presence continued the theme—nostalgic, and also vaguely threatening. Then there came “The End,” the album’s first song. They played Mercurial World straight through, one song melting into another.
At one point, while the projector was out and GLaDOs-lite was having technical difficulties, Mica took the pause to ask us how we liked that choice. The crowd, who’d been singing every word, assured her we were more than okay with it. Between Mica’s interactions with our robotic friend, the curated blend of pinks and blues in the costumes and lights, the synth and sounds stolen from computers crashing, Magdalena created an immersive experience that I wasn’t ready to leave.
Mica also told us this is the largest show they’ve ever played. Judging by the love radiating from the crowd, they’ll be selling out much larger venues soon, and they won’t need TikTok to get there.