Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Culture Room, October 19

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
with He's My Brother She's My Sister
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Review:

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.

Listening to

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."

But they

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


Critic's Notebook

Better than:

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.

Overheard in the crowd: "I can't see. I think Ian Ziering is blocking my view."

Random detail: Jade Castrinos had family in attendance.

Set List:
40 Day Dream
Carries On
River Won't Flow (cover)
Up From Below (with hippie-jam intro)
Black Water
Come In Please
Om Nashi Me (feat. Bongo)

Man on Fire (new song)

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Christopher Lopez