Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ UCLA's Royce Hall 05/20/10
With a painting of the yellow-brick road as their backdrop, it was easy to see that Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros know there’s no place like home. When they played in their hometown at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Thursday night, lead singer Alex Ebert and crew made sure that the audience felt at home, too. Sporting an overgrown beard and a worn-out suit he probably snagged from a thrift store, Jesus look-alike Ebert embraced the audience as he sauntered and danced across the stage, drawing cheers from the anxious crowd.
Supporting their 2009 release Up From Below, the twelve-piece group came off more like an open collective of musicians than a set-in-stone band, performing without a set list and playing with a carefree style reminiscent of the '60s-era psychedelic bands they so beautifully emulate. From the acoustic medleys and folksy singalongs to the vintage trumpet and assorted percussion instruments played by nearly everyone in the band, Sharpe and the Zeros recreated the sound and feel of the '60s with breezy melodies and songs that ran longer live than on their album. The sprawling range of instruments (including ukulele, glockenspiel, accordion, tambourines and maracas) and gang vocals made the concert feel like a good ol’ fashioned hoedown, again harkening back to the music of yesteryear. Thanks to Ebert’s endearing banter and the all-inclusive singalong songs, the band formed an intimate bond with the audience that echoed the music’s themes of love and kindness.