At Home with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

It’s everybody’s birthday at an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show, where several dozens of fans are welcome on stage to dance and take over the vocals, more or less, as they are struck with the desire to do so. Among the young hippies, hipsters, gypsies and all other people gathered at the Boulder Theater for the sold out show, the very few not shaking their limbs about were the odd men out. Guys and gals jumped and shook, shouted and sang for well over an hour alongside the Edward Sharpe family as they delivered a loud, loose, and gritty set that couldn’t have been anything but a fun, therapeutic dance party. And it actually was someone’s birthday.

Aiming to make the night (extra) special for a few among the crowd celebrating their birthday, front man Alex Ebert--aka Edward Sharpe--brought those lucky ones on stage for a folk rendered version of “Happy Birthday.” They clamored up to join the band, followed by small pockets of others, who were followed by still more. Ebert and friends quickly became lost among the 30+ kids who made their way up. The music never stopped though, and Ebert merely joked that it was certainly a lot of birthdays as he wove in and out of the cluster, briefly greeting fans and receiving several claps on the back.

Ebert and the rest of the nine piece band’s open reception to the audience flourished throughout the entirety of the set. Two and then three girls hopped up and joined vocalist Jade Castrinos to sing alongside her, while at another point Ebert wrapped his arm around the shoulder of a fan being held up by his peers as he comically swayed and made hand gestures to the music while Ebert sang. Preparing himself for the upper register vocals in “40 Day Dream,” Ebert handed his mic to a young woman in the crowd while Ebert massaged his neck and throat, during the interim of which this fan broke into the vocals herself as the band continued playing.

Certainly this stranger’s voice should not go un-noted, as she performed several bars of the song quite well. Yet Ebert’s vocals shan’t go without comment either, from song to song and even within a single piece showing great versatility. “Janglin” highlighted the deep, slightly rumbly sound of his voice; “Carries On” further embraced this while also moving to the opposite with higher, every so slightly female-tinged vocals; and “Truth”-- a song off of Ebert’s self titled solo record, Alexander--showing Ebert’s voice in yet another dynamic and displaying his abilities within a style akin rap or hip-hop.

Whatever the manner in which he sang, Ebert and the band both as individuals and in its entirety delivered the sound of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros that gave them their name nearly three years ago with the release of Up From Below. At the same time as they stayed true to their recorded sound, the group didn’t hesitate to turn the volume up and let loose. With nine people on stage and even more instruments, the Magnetic Zeros are no doubt a tight group. Letting the tension unwind just the slightest bit however, a sound was adopted that did reflect the studio album but with more freedom, making for a sound reflective of the spontaneous, care-free atmosphere.

Even for the few new songs the group performed off of their second album did the audience kick up their legs and flail their arms, a reception that didn’t attempt to hide their approval and favor of the new record to come. Judging from those mere two or three song played off of Here, set to drop on May 29th, fans can look forward to more of that sound that made them fall in love with the Sharpe family in the first place. Each tune unloaded keys, tambourine, accordion, trumpet, and every other instrument to deliver more of their unique gypsy folk sound along with the male-female vocals and verbal communication that is strongly exercised on their ever popular track, “Home.”

Though it was released as a single some three years ago, “Home” proved to remain a crowd favorite. Bringing the set to its near close, fans ate up the tune with no less enthusiasm than they had every other song, but with a renewed energy and vigor. Once more two brave and excited souls stood upon the stage and with microphones placed into their hands took on the roles of Jade and Alexander as they tossed the male-female vocals back and forth, respectively, and joined the audience in unison for the chorus. The moment became even more powerful near the song’s end when the music ceased and all members of the band joined with the packed theatre, singing in a united a capella, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

As the house lights came up after one song more, energy and excitement buzzed, the hour plus long set that covered Up From Below almost in its entirety further establishing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at home with Boulder.       

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