I’m not much for indie-pop music, but I do like going to shows. So when a friend called up to say he had an extra ticket to the recent Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, I went with pretty low expectations. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the result. They put on a high energy show that suited their music and got the crowd dancing.
Many folks will probably recognize their music from a recent Ford commercial and it’s no surprise that a marketing agent would choose them for an ad because their sound is really catchy. After the show, I found myself hearing their songs in dreams, humming it while making dinner, and haunting me at work. Despite the distinct danger of developing such a condition yourself, it’s totally worth going to see them; they are much better live.
The band was pretty no-nonsense and got down to the business quickly, playing a couple of their hits early in the set, to which the crowd responded enthusiastically. On their studio tracks, lead singer Alex Ebert’s voice sounds kind of reedy and twangy, playing up a faux-folksy attitude which I frankly find pretty irritating. But live, it’s got power and body, driving the songs along without forcing it.
Their songs are a bit repetitive, but they were able to mitigate that by drawing them out and building it up to a rousing crescendo. As the songs went along they got faster and faster and they sounded better and better by the end. Another way that they were able to kick their live show up a notch was the trumpeter, Stewart Cole. There were times, near the climax of a song, where this sound would start coming from the band, perfectly timed, intriguing and effective. For a split second, I’d wonder what it was, before realizing with delight that it was the trumpet. Hard to explain, but it was a subtle element that gave the band an edge.
Anyway, the post-show assessments that I heard were unanimously enthusiastic. Whether or not you know or like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, they put on a fantastic live show that will not disappoint.