What: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Where: Berkeley Street Studios
Better than… Watching that adorable man and his daughter cover “Home” on YouTube for the millionth time.
Under the cover of great secrecy, in a tiny studio in Berkeley Street in Santa Monica, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros played the entirety of their new album for a select group of journalists, industry bigwigs, and a handful of close friends last night. The question on everyone's mind was could they repeat the success of their debut album Up From Below or would they fall victim to the sophomore slump that plagues so many bands (and how long would the free beer last).
Wooden beams arched over the tiny stage, hung with bright stage lights, giving the space a warm glow despite the scuffed concrete floors and industrial air ducts that lined the walls. About the size of a small café, there was barely enough room to contain the crowd who guzzled down the free booze and were all merrily chatting about this project or that workshop or the blog they were launching. I suspect those poor souls who didn't have a project they were working on just made one up.
When the band took the stage, however, the mood changed. “We just became ready to play these songs for you three minutes ago,” lead singer Alex Ebert said with a grin. “Never played these songs all at once before.” If the army of brightly dressed musicians that crammed onto the stage equipped with accordions, trumpets, and other implements of construction were actually nervous about playing their new stuff, they hid it well. Opening with their new single “Man on Fire” the troupe sparkled with happiness as everyone harmonized the call and response like a a choir and a preacher.
What makes Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros such a joy to watch is how much fun they're having together and the utter lack of dignity they have doing it. By the third song in the set, the band had convinced all of the uptight industry folks in attendance to crush their fancy clothes and to sit on the floor and clap along like a bunch of kindergartners. Even the interview conducted half way through the set was held on the floor. All sense of decorum was abandoned during the second half of the set, so that when Ebert asked the crowd to sing along (a funny request for someone playing their album for the first time) and people did.
Whether they'll have another juggernaut single like “Home” remains to be seen. What remains completely unchanged is the delightful unvarnished rumpus that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros do so well, and really isn't that all that matters?
Random Notebook Dump: Some drunken sot just dumped wine all over my shoulder. Guess this is a real concert after all. Going home with my clothes soaked in alcohol.
Overheard in the crowd: “Who brings a flask to a party with free beer? I do.”
Best Answer to an Interview Question: Q: “How did you end up in Ojai to record the album?” A: “There's this thing called Craigslist.”
The show was recorded for KCRW's Berkeley Street Sessions which will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday May 29th.
Set List below
Man on Fire
I Don't Wanna Pray
All Wash Out
One Love to Another
That's What's Up
If You Wanna