Adam Trent markets himself as "the next generation of magic." His focus is largely on the future of the craft and the various technologies he predicts magic will use in the coming years. But, like most performers, Trent's performances show his respect for his influences just as much as they show off his proficient illusions. Following the precedents that Penn and Teller and David Copperfield laid down, Trent presents a mixture of magic, music, and comedy in one show. "This is a magic show for people who did not know they were fans of magic," says Trent.
Trent came to prominence as one of the seven original members of the Illusionists, the best selling Broadway magic troupe. And, although his current tour is presented by the same producers as the Illusionists, Trent sees his performance as differing from the variety show format of his prior gig. "It has a bit more storytelling than a variety show lends itself to," says Trent. "I can kind of take the audience on more of a journey through my start in magic, show them a lot more classic things, a lot more where I think magic is going in the future."
Trent's love for David Copperfield is shown in his onstage storytelling, something he considers just as important to a performance as the magic. The current tour has put his past in the spotlight more than a few times. "I actually teach the audience how to do some tricks. I show the audience the first trick I ever performed for a group of people," Trent says. "Then I kind of talk about how my life in magic got started. I bring kids up on stage and give them the same pieces of magic that I was given as a kid."
Trent's reflection on his past is only one side of the coin. His outlook on the future of magic is a large part of his performing persona, even going by the name "the Futurist" in the Illusionists, and many of the illusions on stage have a heavy technological backbone. "I think the world we live in today is so fascinated with technology and the reason why it's making our lives easier and allowing us to do things that we've never been able to do in our personal lives," says Trent. "I think that explanation of technology in and of itself is a very magical thing. It's allowing us to do things that we've never been able to do before." Holograms and L.E.D. light walls are a large part of Trent's show.
Often, the performer takes new technologies available to him and designs tricks around them. "There's been a history of magicians always being on the forefront of technology. And technology, whenever you first see it, is indistinguishable from magic," he says. "The first time I saw Shazam figure out what song was playing at a bar, that was like seeing a magic trick."
Trent says that the spectacle of technological innovation, referencing car manufacturing robots and the awe-inspiring hologram Tupac, can already be magical. "It doesn't have to be magical to begin with, but if it's spectacular, if it's interesting, if it's captivating just by default, then I'll spend months on it building a trick around it," he says.
Thanks to the budget for the current tour Trent is on, he is able to do this and more. "I'm bringing much bigger magic than I've ever been able to bring before," he says.
The influences Trent pulls from don't stop at magicians and dope-as-hell resurrected rappers. "Comedy and concerts are probably my two biggest influences, actually," he says. There's plenty of overlap between comedy, music, theater, and magic to work with, given the hefty dose of performing that's required for each. "I'm always drawn to performers and performances that let the audience behind the curtain," says Trent. "Yes, there's a guy on stage, but why is he on stage? How long has he been doing this and what made him want to do this and does he still enjoy this? These are all the things I think about when I sit in the audience and watch a performer."