Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' Big Top

L.A. State Historic Park


Better than…the carnival in Big Top Pee-Wee

The outskirts of downtown L.A. might seem to be an unlikely spot for a carnival, but 12 piece hometown feel-good collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have pulled off an ambitious cicrus-style event that started yesterday and goes through the weekend.

See also: Our slideshow of the carnival

When first announced in August, it seemed like a massive undertaking, but perhaps it's the best thing for the act, best known for their big hit “Home,” but whose self-titled third album, released over the summer, has received middling reviews.

Approaching L.A. State Historic Park on Spring St., you first notice the big top tent and ferris wheel. Once you navigate through the dust clouds, you enter into what's known as the free marketplace, the area outside of the big top tent, which includes a small stage. You can hear — but not see — the main stage; for that you have to pony up. There are games like ring toss and card toss, as well as fortune tellers and other carnival staple characters.

Credit: Timothy Norris

Credit: Timothy Norris

The event channels an old time carnival vibe, with signs for the four-legged woman and three-eyed boy. There's also an enormous beer garden, along with clothing boutiques and health-conscious vendors. (Get your kale snack chips here!) Over the weekend, there will be a farmers market as well. What's really nice is all the space — there's plenty of room to spread out and walk around. Or maybe that's because there wasn't a ton of people yesterday, though attendance will likely perk up.

Credit: Timothy Norris

Credit: Timothy Norris

As for the main event inside the big top, performers including a contortionist and ventriloquist ceded eventually to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros themselves.

Appropriately attired in old-time carnival costumes, the group mixed in requests and covers throughout their loose set, which included lots of crowd participation. Their acclaimed shows often feel like spiritual journeys, and last night's didn't disappoint.

The idea for the festival was ambitious, much like Odd Future's carnival, though that puts the focus on traditional state fair style rides and games — with swag from the collective as prizes. Edward Sharpe's event was more old school, something like a touring revue you might have seen a hundred years ago.

In either case, we applaud these types of undertakings. The music industry is changing, and there's no reason to stick with traditional shows and concerts — the bond between band and fan is strengthened by these types of creative endeavors, which gives the artist a chance to show off a different side of themselves. We're a sucker for a grand vision.

See also: Our slideshow of the carnival

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