Edward Sharpe Brings Good Vibrations to the Hollywood Bowl: Concert Review
(Sunday, Aug. 4)
Singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos lead a large and merry band for one rousing hometown show.
Dressed like an extra on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean, Alex Ebert gleefully ambled about on stage with matted hair and a mischievous grin as he sized up the Hollywood Bowl. When the opening notes of "Man on Fire" stirred the crowd, he plucked an audience member from the first row, marched him through the box seating and cajoled him into dancing along. The man, wearing a blazer and slacks, hesitated at first but by the end of the number, had given in to the moment. There really was no other choice -- Ebert is both master of ceremonies and spotlighted star, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
As the frontman for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Ebert plays conductor to his dozen-plus-strong band and circus ringleader during their more jovial sing-a-long offerings. The group, once considered a communal pop novelty, now has three generally well-received albums under their belt, with their latest self-titled set being released on July 23.
Ebert, who had previously fronted alt-pop band Ima Robot, has clearly embraced his new role as a purveyor of good vibrations. Songs like "I Don't Wanna Pray" and "Janglin," which can sound too precious at times in album versions, were fleshed out and alive in front of an audience of more than 14,500 on Sunday.
A soft-focus kaleidoscopic backdrop situated behind the Magnetic Zeros band provided a counterbalance to the clinically sharp LED screens adorning each side of the Bowl. And, while most of the group stays stationary while jamming to the group's folk-rock tunes, Ebert stomped his feet, zigzagged across the stage and managed to pull off lines like "Ah -- It’s the magical mystery kind" with straight-faced conviction.
He jovially interacted with fans throughout the set, providing one the opportunity to belt out the refrain from "Wanna Pray" -- to rousing applause -- and taking a camera phone from another to record the scene on stage as he weaved through the bands' gear. Presumably, within a day or two, that clip will make a fine addition to YouTube remembrances of the evening.
Part of that fully realized feel is Ebert's on-stage charisma, the sea of multi-instrumentalists supporting him and the natural chemistry between him and Jade Castrinos. The singer, wearing a brilliant golden dress, sashayed through "Jade," and otherwise anchored the freewheeling Ebert.
"We're just figuring it out, we don't have a set list," he said, despite deftly balancing from songs drawn in equal parts from the group's discography. The set never felt perfunctory. Even when Ebert started whistling the first notes of "Home" and the Bowl audience rose to their feet for an extended version of the group's breakout hit, it somehow seemed refreshingly improvised.
Man On Fire
I Don't Wanna Pray
That's What's Up
If I Were Free
40 Day Dream
They Were Wrong
Up From Below