Last Night: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at The Independent

Categories: Last Night
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Joseph Schell
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
September 15, 2009
The Independent
Better Than: Joining a love cult.

By 4 p.m. yesterday, the $10 tickets for last night's Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show at The Independent had sold out. By 8:30pm, scalpers were hawking them on the street outside the venue for $40. But this was to be expected, as one fan informed us while the headliners passed out cold Modelos to crowd members as they took to the stage. Although the band is finishing up its first tour, and just released its debut album, Up From Below, in May, nearly all of its shows in the past two months have sold out.

Last night, it didn't take long to see why.

The sheer number of musicians on stage -- eleven total -- was impressive enough in itself. But even more impressive was the fact that the high-energy melodies weren't drowned out by the band's big sound. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have the talent to make a big production work. And although performers were spilling off stage and into the crowd, they appeared comfortable in the cozy space -- even the accordion player didn't seem phased by the lack of elbow room.

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Joseph Schell
There wasn't much room on the dance floor either. Much of the crowd's energy fed off the smiling, bearded, and bare-chested lead singer Alex Ebert, who spent the set gyrating across the stage, and sometimes off stage, looking happily possessed. Between belting out anthems, Ebert wooed the crowd effortlessly, leaning into the people squashed against the front of the stage to pat them on the head or simply singing "I love you!" to everyone. By mid-set, most people on the packed floor appeared equally happy and possessed, hands waving in the air, hopping up and down in-time with the knot of hair bouncing around atop Ebert's head. "You guys are acting like children!" he shouted at one point. "Thank God!"


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Joseph Schell
It's hard to resist Edward Sharpe's Kool-Aid at least in part because Ebert is so charismatic. He's no stranger to the stage, having acted as front-man for a few bands before Sharpe. (He has certainly wandered down a different path from his punk/new wave, Ima Robot days. Enlightenment much?)

Edward Sharpe wasn't the only band enlightening the crowd last night. Those who arrived late will be sorry they missed out on the first openers, Los Angeles-based Local Natives (one band member called the night an "L.A. takeover ... in a good way"). They were the smallest act of the night with just five members, but that certainly didn't stop them from making big sound. The second openers, Fool's Gold, whetted the crowd's dancing appetite by performing some impressive dance-aerobics on stage with their percussion instruments. Their lead singer summarized their sound nicely into two words: "Bubalicious incense." (He was referring to the smell in the room, but added that it was fitting with the music).

If you missed Edward Sharpe at the Independent last night, they'll be performing at the Treasure Island music festival next month. They're definitely a band you'll want to check out.

Local Natives.jpg
Joseph Schell
Local Natives

Critic's Notebook 1: Props to Edward Sharpe's killer vocalist Jade Castrinos, who apparently had all four wisdom teeth taken out four days before last night's show.

Critic's Notebook 2: Local Natives definitely caused a buzz in the crowd - we imagine they'll be headlining big venues soon.

Personal Bias: We may have developed a slight crush on Local Natives after they covered "Warning Sign" by the Talking Heads.


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