Concert review: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at the Ritz Ybor (with photos)

They traversed nearly all the content of their debut LP, Up From Below, with good dexterity and plenty of energy throughout.  With 10 people in the band, it’s only natural that the Zeroes would sound big, but with that in mind, potentially muddled into a soup of sonic gargle-ness upon our ears. But in this case, each yelp, howl, and co-harmony was hit just right, sitting atop, but by no means crushing, the wall of sound the band constructed.


Between song banter was kept to a minimum, which was kind of disappointing for a guy who, just a few years ago, ditched alcoholism and wrote a book on this messianic alternate persona of Edward Sharpe. According to Ebert, Edward Sharpe “Was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind...but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love.” Surely, this dude would’ve had some interesting things to say.


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But hand shakes and high fives with the front rows were aplenty and his smirky grin seemed nearly tattooed across his lower face. “I’ve got nothing,” he said staring at the floor between songs. “Just appreciation.”


Clocking it at just under an hour, the Zeroes set was a memorable one. They wrapped everything up with an extended cut of likely their biggest, and arguably, best song “Home” -- a deranged, whistle-y duet between lead singers Alex and Jane. They tossed verse lines back and forth like a tennis match before hitting the big chorus. “Ahhh, home. Let me come home. Home is wherever I’m with you,” the band all sang brazenly together, backed by the schmorgasboard of instrumentation – timpanis, trumpet, accordion – they had amongst them. Even as a dude, that phrase melts my heart a little. With the hundreds of voices in the Ritz belting in conjunction, the realization hit home that at moments like this, we human beings can be pretty awesome sometimes.


More pics by Mike:


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So what happens when a band of 10 ragged, past-blasted musical gypsies play Florida for the first time? [All photos by Mike Wilson.]

Well, scanning the crowd at the Ritz Ybor on Saturday night, dreadlocks and body hair (male and female) get profligate, the B.O. funk of weed smoke hangs ever so subtly in the air, and we all get a bit more … loose once Sharpe and his Zeroes hit the stage.

A live band makes a hefty impression on the internal environments of its onlookers, advertently or not. When a band like, say, The National or Interpol hit the stage, they’re unruffled, dapper, seemingly above the giddiness, the “holy shit 1,000 people are just staring at me, cheering me on right now” factor. There’s nothing wrong with that, its just an attitude that lends itself to a more focused, entranced feel throughout the show both audience and band-wise. The band appears intensely concentrated on the intricacies of what they’re playing while the collective audience effort seems to burrow itself into the band's focus, all arms folded, eyes affixed.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are, like, the antithesis of this.   They’re kids dressed in their parents' clothes; if their parents were of the Wizard of Oz scarecrow variety, or John Steinbeck-ian dustbowl farmer variety. The simpleton phrase would be hippies, which was a common sentiment throughout the observable evening.

As Sharpe and his Zeroes banged out the first notes of the opener “40 Day Dream,” it hits that self-consciousness and intense focus on musical deftness are low on the list of live priority for the Zeroes. They’d rather play with, and acknowledge the crowd, the entire atmosphere, than just focus on themselves, which was refreshing. I believe “Revival-like” was the word I typed out on my phone-notes.

Leadman Alex Ebert, looking like a bun-haired Jesus with his upper half donned in Max’s digs from Where the Wild Things Are, sauntered and strutted like a giant hand above him pulled strings attached to his joints. His cohort and harmonizer Jade Castrino was a dead ringer for Amelie with the seasoned vocal pipes of a woman much, shall we say, beefier than her; not to say she couldn’t hit the highs, either.

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