A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Mail: PO Box 1556 | Burlington, VT 05402

Wrapup: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Higher Ground 7/26/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews

Written by Brendan

Tuesday July 27, 2010

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played a sold out show last night at Higher Ground — the first sold out show I’ve been to in a long while, and despite the small inconveniences (shoving fights, etc) of such a crowd, it was definitely nice to see Burlington turn out to support a band who isn’t a washed up rapper and isn’t known for their jamming.

Security was incredibly intense – I’m not sure if it was in response to an incident or incidents, but I’ve never seen things like this before. There were cops in the parking lot with breathalyzers, cops in uniform patrolling inside and out, and burly plainclothes cops with incredibly conspicuous firearms at the door. A youngish looking kid in front of us who definitely looked like he’d had too much of something got a field sobriety test before they’d take his ticket. Not normally what I’d expect at a ES&MZ show, but like I said, maybe it was in response to something else.

We got a good spot stage-left where there are generally less people (farthest spot from the bars). I came to this show ready to dance, so it was nice to have a little bit more room. I was definitely expecting some craziness based on what I’ve read about their shows and seen on YouTube. But I have to say, this show lacked the crazy.

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

Besides the lead singer, Alex Ebert, forgetting the words to a couple of songs (which he played off well enough), the music was really good. I particularly liked Jade Castrinos’ vocals and loved the sporadic trumpet playing. And Alex certainly put on a performance — bouncing, dancing, jumping and interacting with the people right up front. But his energy didn’t seem to spread, and I was left feeling that the band seemed a little fractured, or at the very least just a bit tired.

In a bit of a revolt against the standard practice of pretending to leave only to come back out for an encore after some applause, most of the band just stayed on stage after their “final” song, which I thought was a nice touch. That whole routine definitely gets tiresome. And for their final number, they invited people up on the stage until it was completely full, then went down to the floor and asked everyone to sit with them for the campfire-style “Brother.”

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

Most of the tunes were off of their 2009 release Up From Below, though they definitely played a few that I hadn’t heard and enjoyed. For their bigger “singles” like “Janglin” (popular from being featured on a Ford Fiesta commercial) and “Home” which has apparently been on heavy radio rotation, it was very apparent that the band was sick of playing them. They seemed much more animated and energetic on some of their more low-key or lesser known songs like “Up From Below” and “Desert Song.”

All in all, this was a very good show. But I was (maybe wrongly) expecting something a bit more. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t have a day off between now and their set at Osheaga. I think they could really use it based on what I perceived to be a lack of energy. Here’s to hoping that the atmosphere at Osheaga provides them with a little extra spark.

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

2 Responses to “Wrapup: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Higher Ground 7/26/2010”

  1. Betsy Gordon says:

    I picked up on their exhaustion, too. All the same, Alex knows how to work a crowd; last night’s audience never went crazy but he knows just when to pick it up and slow it down. I think if the band had been at the top of their game I would’ve felt a little like a puppet on a string.

    Also (I wasn’t going to think this out loud, but) their big singles are so dance-to-able, a monkey could have shown up to perform and the concert highs would have been just as high.

    I was disappointed like you but had a good time. Nice review.