Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros August 1, the Cosmopolitan.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are an interesting bunch. They make happy, feel-good songs, yet their authenticity is forever being questioned. Whether or not lead singer Alex Ebert eats tofu and bean sprouts all day is for the birds—what it comes down to is the music.
Other than the sizable band, there were no visuals or spectacles on Thursday night at the Boulevard Pool. The Magnetic Zeros—all 13 or so of them—transformed the Cosmopolitan’s outdoor stage into a musical circus, traversing through three peace-and-love-fueled albums, including their self-titled July release, thanks to a barrage of instruments: two drum sets, multiple guitars, an accordion, keyboards, tambourines and horns. Before the first song (“Janglin’”) was over, Ebert was in the crowd, capturing the moment on his iPhone as a girl plants one right on his cheek.
The shabby frontman and his singing sidekick, Jade Castrinos, found multiple opportunities to connect. “Better Days” and “If I Were Free,” both off the new LP, are larger and more full of life when performed live, and hair-raising harmonies filled the floor. The show was packed, but unlike some Boulevard performances, everyone was fixated on the stage and the band’s immersive, choral folk-pop. During “Home,” a bearded stranger put his hand out toward me, an invitation to dance.
With two birthdays in the crowd, Castrinos and Ebert sang quick “Happy Birthdays” before taking a crowd request for “Man On Fire,” and closing with “Life Is Hard.” In a flash, it seemed, the show was over—but they’d been playing for at least an hour and a half. Ebert earnestly confessed before leaving the stage: “We played so long there’s no room for an encore.” But getting upset isn’t even an option. Still wondering if he’s the real deal? Granola-eating hippie or not, a performance like that says it all.