Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Messiah Complex

music_edward-sharpeEdward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros spread the good word

If it’s the job of a messiah to convert the unbelievers, then Edward Sharpe—aka Alex Ebert—has some work in front of him. Stumbling upon the former Ima Robot frontman’s band at this past October’s Treasure Island Music Festival, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are the kind of act that immediately invited my skeptical inquiry. Not since The Polyphonic Spree had I seen a band with such a definitive “shtick.”

For those who have never seen them live (or their appearance on David Letterman), the group is a dozen-or-so-strong baroque ensemble with a singular and undeniable hippie aesthetic that it will bring to the Rio Theatre on Monday, March 1. Ebert usually dances around shirtless and shoeless, nappy hair tied in a crown, while the rest of the band easily could have taken its wardrobe from the set of Little House on the Prairie. Still, Ebert denies collusion, stating that “it’s just us being who we are. If we coordinated it’d be obvious. We’d be wearing all black, or all white or something.”

The band’s steadfast adherence to its populist image would be notable enough, but to anyone like myself with even modest punk rock purist pretensions, something doesn’t quite jive. For instance, it’s only been about two years since Ebert was active (and wearing eyeliner) with Ima Robot’s indie-glam rock. Moreover, Ebert’s co-lead singer and former girlfriend, Jade Castrinos, used to work for American Apparel, and accordionist Nora Kirkpatrick had a recurring role on the ABC series Greek. Yet both of these women dress onstage more as if they’re preparing to take a raft down the Mississippi than attend a Hollywood function.

But despite my skepticism I’m actually kind of impressed. Whether Edward Sharpe is honest expression or theatricality, the attention to detail is fairly stunning. The aforementioned band-wide fashion sense is, of course, one aspect of this, but lyrically Ebert makes shrewd use of old-timey phrasings—“ma and pa,” “me oh my,” “apple of my eye”—for a subtle yet convincing effect. “Edward Sharpe” is also a character Ebert created—a messiah who falls into all the trappings of Earthly desires. Conversely, Ebert bares more than a passing resemblance to Jesus Christ, and it’s not hard to imagine the band’s music as background for Jim Jones and the Agricultural Project’s broadcast propaganda.

Supposedly this concept came out of the time between Ima Robot and Ebert’s new clan, a period which he describes as “manure, fodder for the next thing … I had to learn how to write music for fun.” So, it seems that, if nothing else, Ebert really believes in what he’s doing, and that whatever happened to him in between bands isn’t as contrived as it might initially appear.

Still, did all dozen members of the band go through a hippie-epiphany, too? “No, we don’t all live together in a commune, I will say that. And I wouldn’t particularly mind that if we all did,” says Ebert. But when I press him a bit more he seems to level with me, explaining, “I’m aware of all angles, I was aware of the aesthetic and the implications of [the hand-painted schoolbus the band completed its first tour in] and hiring a dude named Cornfed to drive us. At the same time it was also a pragmatic, practical purchase.”

Whatever one wants to believe about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the band’s energy together is undeniable. Ebert and Castrinos still seem to have a special chemistry onstage, underscored by their former relationship. While it’s kind of sad to think that the semi-hit “Home” is something of a love ballad from Ebert to Castrinos, he relates, “We started off as best friends, then it became romantic for a little while, and now we’re back to best friends. It’s the same love for her no matter what form it takes.”


Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform at 8 p.m. Monday, March 1, at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 at the door. For more information, call 423-8209.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise