Pick a card, any card—but maybe set down your beer first. One of the most fun nights of taproom entertainment throughout the entire year, Magic at Modist returns on Thursday with some of the Twin Cities’ best magicians performing tricks up close and on stage. To share some background on what seems like an exciting-yet-under-covered scene that might be ready to have a moment throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, we check in with designer, DJ, and ‘close up’ magic man himself, Mike Davis. Was this your card?
DISPATCH: The thread you’ve been sharing on twitter of sleight of hand masters has us super hyped. For people who aren’t familiar, what will tap room audiences be experiencing with ‘up close magic’?
Mike Davis: The shows at Modist Brewing have been a lot of fun. We did two in the Fall of 2021 and are so happy to be back doing more events there. Once doors open, you can grab a beer, walk around, and watch one of the close-up magicians performing tricks with cards, coins, and other small objects right under your nose. It’s one thing to see a card trick on TV or TikTok, but to really witness something impossible happening in the palm of your own hand is something everyone should experience. Nick Olson and Josh Roman will be walking around doing this tableside magic before the stage show begins.
The lineup is you, Parker William and Noah Sonie doing magic sets. Is Minneapolis a hotbed of magic and we just don’t know it?
I am bummed to have to back out of the show at the last minute due to getting sick! When I first got interested in magic a few years ago, I had no idea about any kind of local community of performers or enthusiasts, but after posting some videos of card tricks on my Instagram, the guys from The Magic Underground reached out to connect. They’re a production company of young magicians, some of whom perform full time. I met them at one of their shows in February 2020, right before . . . well, you know. With my experience from DJing and being involved in the local art scene, I offered to help them find some new venues to bring their talent to new audiences. Local magicians Noah Sonie and Suzanne have both appeared on “Penn & Teller Fool Us” and Derek Hughes, also from the Twin Cities, was a finalist on “America’s Got Talent” a few years ago. Eagle Magic & Joke Store, once based near The Armory and now in Burnsville, is one of the country’s longest-running magic stores. Also, there’s a huge series of instructional magic videos called The Greater Magic Video Library which were all produced and filmed in downtown Saint Paul featuring performances and lessons from some of the best magicians of the end of the 20th century. Definitely a rich history of magic here in town that I’ve been loving learning about.
Is doing this show at Modist where folks will be imbibing making it easier or harder to perform? After a few beers are people more susceptible to your showmanship and magic?
It’s kind of the perfect setting. Aside from the crew at Modist just being a dream to work with, their patrons come to enjoy a few beers, but rarely down enough to become unruly. The crowds at Magic At Modist have been perfect. There’s lot of interaction with people being invited on stage to take part in the show and there have been some really mind-blowing performances in Modist’s back warehouse.
Do your fast hands from your accomplished career as a DJ play into your card-manipulation skills?
Ha! Good question. While I don’t know how much direct correlation there is in the finger dexterity department, I’ve been applying so much of what I’ve learned about crowd response and interaction, pacing a set with high and low points, build-ups, and storytelling from DJing to my card magic. Plenty of parallels to think about.
Will taproom magic become a regular thing around town? (We hope so.)
Yes! We’re aiming to continue doing Magic At Modist once every two months and the team from The Magic Underground has also started putting on regular events at Sisyphus Brewing, including a new monthly open mic night where up-and-coming magicians can try new effects they’re working on. Hoping to find a lot of new talent there!