Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
with He's My Brother She's My Sister
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
People like to throw around the term "religious experience" a lot to describe concerts. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you I saw God last night at the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show or get a visit from my coyote spirit guide or anything of the sort (though with all the hippies in the crowd, I'm guessing at least a couple were on something strong enough to think they did). But, shoulder to shoulder with a crowd painted in hues of gold and purple, blue and pink and green by the swirling lights and repeatedly whipped into a frenzy, then soothed to a lull, and back again by a mad shaman onstage by the name of Alex Ebert, I did feel an awful lot like an all-too-willing participant at a tent revival. Albeit one put on at your local hippie commune.
Which, I guess, is exactly what I was hoping for. The concern with Edward Sharpe and the
Magnetic Zeros certainly wasn't with the quality of their live show.
Their prowess onstage is well-documented. Moreover, the real concern was
whether they could live up to the massive hype they've built up
laying siege to the music community at large as they tour relentlessly and
steal the show at one massive festival after another. I'm happy to say
they lived up to that hype and then some.
that matter, their opening act, He's My Brother She's My Sister, who
are barely toddling yet in terms of their lifespan as a band with their
debut EP only two weeks on the street, didn't disappoint either. True,
you get instant kudos for having a cute tap dancer as a key member.
Because who the hell uses a tap dancer? Lauren Brown makes up a rhythm
section unlike any you're likely to find in another band, stopming and
tapping away on top of a miked wooden box while guitarist-banjo player
Rob Kolar and cello player Satya Bhabha paint picturesque musical
backdrops straight from an old-timey Western while Kolar and his sister
Rachels' distinct two-part vocals give the already spectacular
songwriting they display on songs like "How'm I Going to Get Home
Tonight" an even more refined sense of time and place.
their alleyway-inspired vaudeville-Western swing infusions is something
like finding a rare antique in a gas station, then realizing it's been
tinkered with to make it useful to modern life. From the very open, they
won the crowd, and when they went into upbeat ditties like "Clackin
Heels," they had them dancing along. Orpheo McCord of Ed Sharpe and the
Zeros joined them onstage to do a surprising rendition of Ace of Base's
"All That She Wants," which I can honestly say is the first time I've
ever danced to it. Then they invited another Magnetic Zero, Nora
Kirkpatrick, to lend her accordion to another couple of songs before
finally closing with a sing-along to "Tales That I Tell."
wouldn't go far. Throughout much of the show, they'd be visible at stage
right, dancing along to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' show.
Which was right in line with the rest of the audience, who clapped and
swayed and sang and danced along from the very open with "40 Day Dream"
as Ebert traipsed along in front of the monitors, leaning over and
shaking hands with the fans, all the way to the end.
"This is our first time here," Ebert told the crowd before breaking into the ever-popular
"Janglin," to which they cheered and whooped, thrilled for this first
visit. Then the band slowed things down for the downtempo "Carries On,"
but it soon built back up, and before the end, fans were bouncing balloons
around the venue. Then vocalist Jade Castrinos led the charge on a
rendition of "River Won't Flow" before the band broke into a version of
"Up From Below" at least 12 minutes long, starting with a decidedly
hippified jam and Ebert dropping verses like "I once was a piece of
Silly Putty." As expected, the place damned near erupted when they went
into "Home," and Ebert gave the crowd a heartfelt thanks thereafter,
telling the them "we wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. Which
wouldn't be that big a deal, because you wouldn't really be missing
much. But we'd miss you" and then explaining "This isn't a one-way gift.
It's a sharing process."
Then Ebert invited an original Zero by
the name of Bongo (who surprisingly enough plays bongos) onstage to
join them. It seem he played with the band at its first show in L.A.
before moving to Jupiter. "But he's back here on Earth, just for the one
day," joked Ebert. With Bongo's help, the band ripped into "Om Nashi
Me" to close out the show. But they weren't backstage long before the
crowd's cheers brought them back out for an encore consisting of two
tracks. First up was a new song called "Man on Fire," which Ebert
introduced as a sort of "fuck it. But in a good way. Like, 'fuck it. I'm
in.'" During the course, Ebert hopped off stage (not for the first
time) to join the fans, hugging them and sharing the mic for them to
sing along. Then, to close, in perfect hippie fashion, he invited the
crowd to join him sitting on the floor.
the entire place obliged. From the beer-spattered floor of Culture
Room, a sing-along ensued as Ebert, backed only by Christian Letts and
Nico Agglietti on guitars and McCord with a shaker as the entire band
sat along the edge of the stage, led the audience through "Brother."
yeah, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros did live up to the hype.
Every bit of it. When I'd read from reviewers and critics that it wasn't
so much a show as a celebration, when Christian Letts told me over the
phone that the whole crowd clapped and sang and danced and was really
itself a part of the show, when fans around the country championed the
unforgettable experience -- they were all right. And I don't expect I'll
miss the opportunity whenever this band's second trip to SoFla comes
Better than: Tailgating
at the Steelers game in the "Fanbulance," like in the Direct TV
commercial featuring "Home." And maybe nearly great as hanging out at
the mythical Magnetic Zeros hippie commune I can't help but picture.
Personal bias: I've been obsessed with the unique vibe on Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' debut record, Up From Below, pretty much since it dropped. And since recently getting turned onto
He's My Brother She's My Sister, the sentiment has been pretty damned
The crowd: Hippies. Lots of hippies. And a really
drunk couple that eventually forced my wife and me to move from our
fantastic spot if we had any hope of really enjoying the show. Hey, big
fat guy in a black T-shirt who thinks it's cool to pick up your drunk-ass
girlfriend in a club and put her on your shoulder, as many tried to tell
you last night, it's not. Also, you suck.
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Overheard in the crowd: "I can't see. I think Ian Ziering is blocking my view."
Random detail: Jade Castrinos had family in attendance.
40 Day Dream
River Won't Flow (cover)
Up From Below (with hippie-jam intro)
Come In Please
Om Nashi Me (feat. Bongo)
Man on Fire (new song)