The Band of Brothers Road Show: How American Authors And Co. Raised The Bar At The Varsity


It was an insanely freezing night in Minneapolis when I found my Uber pulling up to The Varsity in Dinkytown, Minnesota. In store we had the emergence of the Band of Brothers Road Show, consisting of PUBLIC, MAGIC GIANT, and American Authors. I am not going to paint it any other way – this show was nothing short of phenomenal, and I am still shocked that this band of bands has not sold out more venues. 

With doors at 6 PM our photographer and I arrived at 645 only to find that PUBLIC had gotten an early start and was nearly finished with their set. The 2 songs we caught were fun and the energy of the crowd reflected that. Singer John Vaughn introduced the last song “Make You Mine” as their first song that ever got radio play. Speaking of Vaughn, he was observed outdoors loading the band’s van after their set in -10 degree weather wearing a sleeveless t-shirt.  Damn!!!

Soon after PUBLIC said their goodbyes, we had an MC of sorts take the stage to propose a game – a game – to decide the next act. Taking a gamble on a show line-up is something I have never witnessed, but they were nothing but serious when a Japanese Plinko ball drop game was used to elect the next act. American Authors won, and with that – so did we. 

The NYC based squad of Authors took to the stage with a bang. Familiar choruses filled the air as they came out with jaw-dropping energy and excitement, causing the crowd to light up immediately. Echos of their popular choruses filled the air for the whole set, as the crowd was often singing along word for word. Lead singer Zac Barnett was so engaging that he was literally in the crowd at times, while the band raged in unison behind him – it was something spectacular as the whole group of Barnett, James Adam Shelley, Dave Rublin and Matt Sanchez jammed out with banjos, basses, and drums respectively. We heard everything by the end of the night, including but not limited to “Best Day of My Life” and “Go Big or Go Home.” It was easy to forget at times that this was only the beginning as Magic Giant hadn’t even claimed the stage yet.

Magic Giant came out, and began a set that turned into a nonstop sing-along playlist with everyone swaying with the band back and forth and dancing endlessly. Magic Giant, an indie folk group based out of LA, produced a sound that I would compare most accurately to empowering road trip anthems. Their music just made you want to clap and jump with a childishly massive grin on your face. Hits like “Set on Fire” and “Window” were all but a few of their continuously energizing choice of tunes this cold, cold evening. The highlight of their night surely was when they entered the crowd to play a slower song, titled “Great Divide,” with the lights basically turned off, while being surrounded by phone lights beaming on them like a nest of blue glow. 

Before we could even take in what had just happened, the bands came together for a cover of “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel that had the whole venue belting the memorable throw-back lyrics. It was at this moment that I realized that the bar had been raised not just for me as a regular concert-goer, but for the venue itself. I am nervously doubting that I will ever be able to see such a fun, energetic group of artists – all in one night, all in one place, literally coming together on stage to make the music we all know and love. 

I await, impatiently, the next time any of these bands revisit the venues I often find myself venturing to. If you get a chance to see American Authors, Magic Giant, or PUBLIC – please, do yourself a massive favor and pick up tickets as soon as you can – this is truly something you do not want to miss, no matter your familiarity with any of the artists.