Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Mar 29th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals