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Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros at SOhO

L.A. Revivalist Group Play a Stellar Sold-Out Show on Saturday


Today’s “revivalist” movement lies behind a facade of everyday life, slowly seeping into the consciousness of our culture for better or worse. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes might visually look like a cliche of a bygone era (scraggly hair, hippie rags, and motley crew camaraderie abound), but no matter; the ethereal hope they brought to SOhO last Saturday night resonated through the power of their songs and the smiles of their fans.

The late night show embodied everything that Santa Barbara should be. Opening act the Growlers, a Costa Mesa group of surfed out psychedelic haze, had more people moving than I ever thought possible for a non-headliner. And the raspy whine of singer Brooks Nielson really sets the band apart from their contemporaries.

Meanwhile, Edward Sharpe frontman Alex Ebert sported a thin frame and a playful stage persona that worked to free the audience from gravity’s heavy tethers, allowing even the most reserved person to feel some pinch of music-bound community. Ebert’s charisma is only augmented by his understanding of what’s happening to the world. “Everybody thinks they’re born on the cusp of something special, and I’m no different,” Ebert explained, continuing, “But I really do hope that it’s not just a fad…”

Even if you’ve never given thought to youth culture, it’s blatantly obvious from the appearance of the Magnetic Zeros that something has been taken from the past generation. The 11 bandmembers who appeared onstage on Saturday each had their own distinct style, which has become a point of disagreement for those who claim the band is no different than any other revival outfit. If their uplifting songs and gospel choruses don’t give credence to the Zeros’ credibility, than the mere fact that they have a trumpet should.

After the Growlers finished their set, Sharpe and the Zeros took to rearranging everything onstage to make room for their oversized collective. By the time they were finally ready to play it was nearing midnight and I half expected that the crowd would be too tired to dance, but when Ebert and crew dove into “40 Day Dream,” nothing could stop the ensuing musical celebration of everything just and peaceful in the world.

Prior to their set, I spoke with Ebert briefly. What ensued is encapsulated below.

First off, how were the Abbot Kinney and Manimal fests? They were really fun. I like the desert and the power of the full moon.

Where was Manimal again? Just outside of Joshua Tree.

There seems to be a resurrection of this ‘powerful peace’ that was blatantly apparent in the music of the late ‘60s. Do you have any insight on how our time deviates from the later? How ‘bout what the Internet is doing to it? A rational man would assume that eventually peace and love are going to have to win in order for man-kind to carry on. Everybody thinks they’re always born on the cusp of something special, and I’m no different. I think the same thing, but I really do hope that it’s not just a fad or anything like that. I don’t think what the world needs right now is a fad of any kind. [It needs] something that sticks, coming from the feet up. As far as the Internet helping, the Internet is something that may allow the disallowance of people in ‘power’ to suppress any movements like that. I can push it here and it’d just pop up over there. It’s like a game of…

Whack a Mole… Yeah. [Laughs]

And what’re your thoughts with Obama and this peace prize? I saw it as a dare. I saw it as them daring him to be peaceful, I don’t see it as he’s actually done something. I think he’s got a chance to do a lot and I think what he’s spoken of so far is different than other presidents before him. Words are powerful.

What gives you the most hope now? I don’t know about the word “hope.” Hope for me is very selfish, and I’m into that, I’m into hoping. What gives me hope is faith. Faith is the bigger word; it’s a word that allows me to not be afraid of dying or to feel like what we’re doing has any significance. I really feel I didn’t come here to earth just to experience really awesome things, know what I mean? I’m bored of that.

Leave a footprint? Not just leave a footprint. I see the grand scope of where humanity is going and I’d like to help out. And hopefully it’s going somewhere better.

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