Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia- Nov 15, 2009

On Sunday night I think I saw the best live performance I’ve seen this year…and trust me, I’ve been around.

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros’ live performance was simply magnificent. After hearing reviews of the type of things they do live, I was really eager to see them play. In the end, I was not disappointed. The band is more awkward than you would expect even from an unconventional indie group. But, regardless of their looks, their clothing or even their personal hygiene, these guys know their stuff. Front-man Alex Ebert is as close as it gets to an “environmentally friendly rock star”…a guy that shows all the traits you associate with a true idol, but at the same time, someone that seems too approachable and laid down that trying to marry both ideas would certainly get you confused. His biblical image is impossible to remove and he knows this and plays it along, making you believe that a modern Jesus Christ has come to rescue us…from what?...boredom, musical repeatability, social regulations, god knows what…but in the end the music from this shirtless Jesus and his band transports you to that place where you find yourself singing, dancing and shaking every piece of your body, trying to follow him on his attempt to remove the “bad vibes” as he would call them.

The stage’s leading role is always shared with the amazingly beautiful Jade Castrinos, a girl with a voice that although strong is half as impressive as the energy she puts on every song. In addition, you have a collection of characters adding strings, percussions, guitars, keyboards, accordions, trumpets, etc., making it simply impossible to decide who’s playing what, and at the same time almost inviting you to forget about it, play along and enjoy the moment.

Their show has moments hard to decipher…moments where a laugh, a tear and a sight blend into a composite that spells nothing else but happiness. On Sunday, they played all their “Up from Below” album and a couple of new songs not included on this record. The intimacy of the First Unitarian Church once again contributed to the success of a wonderful night and the band seemed certainly impressed with the Philly crowd.

At some point, Alex’s excitement drove him all the way to the top of a huge speaker from where he delivered a song almost from the ceiling of the room…moments after, he asked the engineers to kill the light of the venue for them to play “Black Water” in complete darkness…at the end, during their encore the band crushed any musical etiquette asking everyone to sit down, and those of us lucky enough to be up front were asked to join them on stage, sit down and close the night with the sweet tune “Brother”.

But the story did not stop there…Alex decided to stick around after the show and personally thank almost everyone from coming…I knew I had to say something, so I approached him and said “thanks for a great show, come back soon”, he simply said “No problem man, you guys were awesome…”…I walked away.

Coming out the First Unitarian Church everyone seemed shocked, perplexed, confused, but certainly satisfied. This band is one that no one should afford to miss…and this concert was certainly one I will remember for a long, long time.



Video of their recent appearance in NPR's Tiny Concert series.

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