Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the Grove Last Night

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Todd Barnes/OC Weekly
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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Oct. 26, 2010
The Grove of Anaheim

The Show:  As someone who's spent a fair amount of time cavorting with hippies--and has a particular disdain for hippy culture--watching a pseudo-hippy band like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros revealed a lot about my staunchly-held beliefs. No matter how tenaciously I want to hate this band for their day-glow piano, and scruffy Devendra Banhart aesthetic, I just can't. 

Watching the free-spirited group of 10 musicians play such epic songs as"Home" and "40 Day Dream" while the audience trance-danced and shook tambourines, it was hard not to be moved by the group's optimistic sound. 

Watching the massive musical collective, it's apparent that while visually they don't have the stylish veneer of session players, they nonetheless play like a behemoth, living, breathing  entity--a perfectly tuned organic machine. Listen to any song and guitars seamlessly give ways to trumpets, pianos to harmonicas, tambourines to ukeleles. And it's all done with singular direction and a unified presentation. 

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Todd Barnes/OC Weekly
That said, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's few awesome songs are eclipsed by their overwhelming catalogue of mediocre material. Though the song "Janglin" was particularly uplifting with it's xylophone intro and audience assisted chorus, it was one of a handful of single-worthy highlights for most of the evening. Contrasted with slower, trudging songs such as "Carry On," it wasn't enough to maintain the set's buoyancy. 

Then there were the moments when instead of playing music, singer Alex Ebert got allegorical. He took several moments to describe the appearance of bugs splattered on a windshield and the resulting lack of clarity a driver experiences. He then compared his life to a bug-splattered windshield. Universal stuff hash pipe. In his defense, throughout the entire performance, Ebert graciously and firmly shook hands with the folks crowded in front of the stage. His dedication to his fans was refreshing.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were preceded by ten amateur acts playing acoustic guitars, keyboards and basses. While it was a nice gesture on the part of the booking agency, it made for a tedious music listening experience.

Overheard: "I want to buy an Edward Sharpe t-shirt."

Personal Bias: I'm not a fan of hippie culture.

The Crowd: Judging by the Birkenstock sandals and cargo shorts, Dave Mathews and Jack Johnson must be sweating the fact they could be losing fans.

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