December 14, 2009
The Mayan Theater, Los Angeles
What’s taken me so long?! As you know, I typically post my reviews in the middle of the night, immediately following the show. What happened? Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – that’s what happened! Let’s just say I’ve been riding the Edward Sharpe cloud ever since their show at The Mayan Theater on December 14th. I’ve been too high (figuratively speaking, not literally) to buckle down at the computer and write. Not to mention the fact that my hands were still tingling from all the clapping, for weeks following the show.
It’s been a long time – at least a year – since I’ve been to The Mayan Theater. It’s a really cool venue, with great sound, a GA seated area upstairs, and tiered GA standing levels on the floor, allowing the audience to choose their own live music viewing adventure.
I’d been looking forward to seeing Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros since the last time I saw them, at The Abbot Kinney Festival in September, 2009. The buzz about this band had been building all year and rightfully so. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros is more than a band, it’s an experience.
This experience was conceived of by Alex Ebert, lead singer of Ima Robot. In Ebert’s vision, Edward Sharpe (Ebert’s stage persona) was sent down to Earth to heal humankind. However, Sharpe keeps getting distracted by women and falling in love. So while he may be too busy falling in love to save us, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are here to make sure we have a good time. And they deliver.
The mood in the Mayan was light. People were bouncing, dancing, jumping, and singing along. . . and that was simply to the tracks spun by the DJ, prior to the band taking the stage. When Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros hit the stage, people bounced higher, danced more, and sang louder. The crowd was among the most energetic, enthusiastic, harmonious and nice audiences I’ve encountered. It seems Edward Sharpe, in his attempt to heal humankind, brings out the best in people.
Before the show began, three screens were illuminated – one large screen which acted as the backdrop for the stage, and 2 smaller round screens suspended above the crowd, on either side of the stage. Throughout the show images of the band were superimposed with images of the audience and various ethereal backdrops. The crowd cheered and made shadow puppets on the screens. Film clips of the band riding their bicycles and interacting playfully were also projected on-screen, which added to the overall happy atmosphere in the venue.
That said, true happiness was achieved through Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros’ music and their performance. On several occasions Sharpe came down off the stage to sing and dance with the crowd. During “Om Nashi Me”, Sharpe kept the beat by clapping his hands against the hands of various audience members. During “40 Day Dream” the crowd provided the clapping between the chorus and the verses. The audience also doubled as backup singers, singing the “40 Day Dream” verses as loud as the band, and providing the vocals for the catchy bridge, “ooh ahh ahh yeah yeah yeah. . .” As if they knew it was coming, the crowd began clapping the beat to “Home” as soon as Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros struck the first note.
As usual, the eclectic band, with their unique instruments did their part to raise the vibration of the show. You can’t help but smile along with Jade Castrinos’ expressive performance. Stewart Cole… wtf?! I’ve seen Cole perform with several bands over the years, but playing with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros allows his numerous talents to truly shine. Cole plays multiple instruments, with a level of joy and passion that’s inspiring and contagious. There are too many to name them all, but each of The Magnetic Zeros deserves proper recognition for their contribution to making an Edward Sharpe show the real “happiest place on Earth.”
One of my favorite moments of the night was the band’s performance of “Brother.” Members of the audience and friends of the band were invited to join the musicians on stage. Meanwhile, Sharpe got off stage and balanced himself on the edge of the rail. With Sharpe’s cue, everybody on stage sat down. Then, everybody on the floor sat down. Sharpe hovered angelically, centered between the audience on stage and the audience on the floor, while seated on the rail. He sang the first two thirds of the song perched on the rail before gracefully transitioning back to the stage. This performance propelled “Brother” to my favorite song on the band’s debut album, Up From Below (“Om Nashi Me” originally held that rank).
By the way, it’s hard to have a favorite song on an album comprised of 13 outstanding tracks. Essentially, every song on the album is a “favorite.” But seeing Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros live adds even more emotion, magnetism (no pun intended, but I can think of no better word), and connection to the already outstanding songs. At an Edward Sharpe show you become part of the music, part of the band, the reason the songs were written in the first place.
If festival promoters are as smart as I hope they are, then this band will be booked at all the major festivals this Summer.
One more note about the audience: Edward Sharpe fans are the happiest and best looking people in town. Some people say “you can’t have it all” – go to an Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros show and prove them wrong.
“Om Nashi Me”
“40 Day Dream”