Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Live at Tivoli

The choirful bunch performed in Utrecht, Netherlands this August, read my review here:

The night of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ performance in Utrecht ended much differently than it began. Let me first address an issue of style: my reviews about shows in Holland are more about the experiences than solely the sets. I hope to share the magic that tingles the spine during certain ear-opening performances, with moments and energies conveyed to a world that might be better off all together sharing these highlights of our musically-inclined lives.

I was wandering from the Utrecht Central train station towards Tivoli, one of the city’s premiere concert venues, when I bumped into frontman Alexander Ebert and band wandering about the canals before the show. I was invited backstage to “come hang out, behind the cage and shit…” but lost the band in the messy entrance queue. Down and out about the missed chance, an inspirational ‘movie-moment’ memory came to me, from backstage stories my Dad used to tell me that all seemed to include “just walk in like you own the place.” I pursued the door on a mission, and easy as pie I was buzzed in down a hallway past security, then faster and further past a dressing room reeling smells of the local smoke, finally arriving backstage to a huddling humming circle of band members just minutes before heading onstage.

This band is as quirky and lovable onstage as they are in recordings. They opened with a new track that kept drifting but not quite turning into “Imagine” by John Lennon. Alexander, alongside an also prominent member (/girlfriend?) Jade Castrinos, sat and stood barefoot and swaying with their bodies and smiles, inviting the crowd into their dreamy state of happy music and peculiar dance moves. “Up From Below”, “Home” and “40 Day Dream” (above) were solid singing favorites, necessities when seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros live.

Yes, most of us had probably been drawn to the show with visions of a gigantic chorus thundering to “Home”. The stray from singles off their debut album Up From Below is really what made the show special, though. “Black Water” had a build up so long and haunting that it forced a re-evaluation of what moods their music is capable of creating. A handful of Alexander’s solo songs were also performed, gracing us with a dose of passionate hip-hop during my personal favorite song of the set, “Truth”. An honest performance to a tee; when the band seemed tired of jumping and jamming they simply sat on the ground. This lent for some nice spotlight solo time, a predictable but beautiful opportunity to focus on Jade in all her cute pixie charm.

The night had full beards, whistling competitions, harmonicas, neck-dangling cymbals and multiple drumsets- all and more made possible with a crew of over ten band members. They call themselves family and this they certainly seem to be. Ending with the euphoric hymn “Om Nashi Me”, the show was a success, albeit slightly too ordinary for the quirky reputations behind this bunch of musicians. And something I learned from the night? It’s much more fun to be in with the sea of fans than it is to watch from the stage-side shore. Maybe a bit less “cool”, but that’s entirely subjective anyway.

(Originally published on the217.com and readbuzz.com)

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