The Sharpest Tools in the Soul Shed

Jul 3rd, 2010 in Music

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros came to the Lobero in Santa Barbara last night and drew this this town to them yet again.  With this band, the sum is always greater than the parts, and infinitely beyond zero.  Have Mercy!

We had seen the band in March at SoHo and were blown away by the collective sound and stage presence of this charismatic, patchouli-hurricane, 10-person ensemble.  They delivered stupendous songs with vital verve that night.

So prior to the Lobero show, we held concerns that, with the change of venue to the more staid Lobero and the added effects on the band of another four months of incessant touring behind the same record, the Magnetic Zeros might be somewhat de-magnetized and less than zeros.  As the old Faces song goes:  shows how wrong you can be.

The evening opened with an interesting set by the band’s piano player, Tay Stratham, accompanied by various members of the band (but especially the pixie-ish Jade).  While the songs were melodic and the singing somewhat enchanting, Stratham’s lyrics and between-song banter were naive and insipid enough to make an aspiring kindegartner poet blush.  Still, the net effect was disarmingly enjoyable.

After a short break, the entire band took the stage and from the first notes of their childrens-song sounding, Janglin’, Alex and the band were in full rippling and janglin’  control of the Lobero crowd.  The full stimulus package of the band didn’t really kick in until a few songs later, but once it did there wasn’t a person in the theater who would have wanted to be anywhere else.

Lead singer Alex Ebert was in shamanic control of both the band and the audience with his dancing, crowd-involvement and beautiful voice.  Co-vocalist, Jade Castrinos, engagingly employed her perky-pixie, Bjork-sque habitude during the proceedings, although she wasn’t featured quite as prominently as last time around.  Nevermind:  she still beguiled and significantly contributed to the night (and particularly on her own song, the soulful Fire Water-River of Love). Onstage she flaunted the spectrum from seemingly drug-addled to crafty, controlled entertainer, but always with a gestalt of love and care.  A rare gift.

On this night we especially appreciated the musicality and significant contributions of the band’s supporting members.  Nico Aglietti and Christian Letts supplied deft lead and rhythm guitars (with Letts adding stellar harmonies), Stewart Cole held sway with his sonorous trumpet sounds and vocals, while drummer Josh Collazo vacillated between pounding and soft-malleting his drum kit to great effect.  To round it out, bassist Airin Older supplied a steady, melodic bottom, Stratham added pounding piano, Orpheo McCord contributed great vocals and percussion, and  Nora Kirkpatrick supplied keyboard and accordion effects.  These are dexterous and talented musicians, and all contributed mightily to the collective sound.

The band played a significant setlist comprised of most of their debut record, “Up From Below.”  The set included the obligatory crowd pleasers Home (five to six minutes when the world smacks of heaven) and 40 Day Dream, but also Desert Song (on which each member turned eyes heavenward and seemed to be playing and focused as if their lives depended on it), Carries On (with its message of caring love), Up from Below, Black Water, Simplest Love and Om Nashi Me, along with a cast of others.

One of the highlights of the evening was the obscure, audience-requested (not the first to be obliged) Man on Fire. The band had to spend a few moments figuring out the song’s chords and spent a few moments early in the song fleshing out the vocals and sound, but by song’s end the power and glee found by the band in playing this song were apparent to all.

And for the finale Alex tightrope-walked the first few rows of seats and sat atop the seat next to Mrs. Lefort to regale the crowd with the band’s standard fine finale, the haunted and haunting Brother.

Afterwards, Alex and other band members stayed on stage for their usual catch-up with their fans.  It warms the heart to see this band and others taking a more friendly stance with their fans.

We can’t wait for the next time and a new set of songs.  Don’t miss it.

In the meantime check out some of their videos below and the stellar cover of Sharpe song Carries On by the band “Dawes.”

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