Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are a band of hippies, gypsies and vagabonds out of Los Angeles. At least they appear to be.
The Zeros’ music sounds like a potent mix of Arcade Fire, the Lumineers, the Head and the Heart, and other folk-rock ensembles tossed with some flashes of hippie-jam/jug band music. One of its most appealing traits are its gang vocals: At times, most, if not all, of the band joined in on a bridge or chorus, which only further encouraged sing-alongs from the crowd. It’s all arranged in guitars, bass, accordion, keyboards, various other stringed instruments, double-barrel drum kits, tambourine (sometimes two) and the occasional blare of a trumpet. At times it felt like a band twice its size.
Its leader is the extroverted Alex Ebert, who, like several other bandmates, looks like he emerged from a ’70s commune. They are a lively and entertaining lot — funny, engaging and hard to resist, especially when they launch into one of their big, cheery, melodic anthems, the kind that can make a crowd sound like it’s singing a college fight song to save its team’s life.
They opened with one of those, the folky and soulful “40 Day Dream,” then the jaunty folk tune “Man on Fire,” then “Janglin’,” a song that lives up to its title. The love-hymn “Mayla,” embellished with some lovely trumpet lines, was a departure from the norm, though it, too, started a loud, widespread sing-along. The setlist also included “I Don’t Wanna Pray,” “That’s What’s Up,” “Up From Below” and the rousing gospel-soul tune, “River Won’t Flow.”
This show was the last on this leg of its tour, so the band was willing to wing it a bit, taking requests from the crowd up front and inviting a tour manager to come out and sing lead on a cover (Ben Harper’s “With My Own Two Hands,” I think). It made for a slightly ragged, free-wheeling final 45 minutes or so, which included Ebert’s canvassing the crowd up front, like a talk-show host soliciting comments and testimonials.
The hit “Home” came late, but it aroused the biggest ovation and sing-along (and some whistling-along, too). For one of the closers, Ebert pulled one off his solo album, a love song called “Million Years.” By then, however, the place was starting to thin out, rapidly. Midnight was approaching, and the weather was breaking the band’s hippie-gypsy spell.
| Timothy Finn, The Star