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Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros - 40 Day Dream
May 30, 2012
Total plays:
96 times
Why do we like this?
The first time I witnessed the spectacle that is Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, it was at a small stage at Lollapalooza with a fairly spacious crowd. But within five months, they went from being an indie unknown to headlining the Chicago Blues and Bluegrass Festival, packing the Congress Theater with a sea of carefree souls in frolicking bodies.

Now, nearly after a year and a half of withdrawal (honestly, if you've seen the live show you know they provide a high that no drug can match), they returned to Chicago for a sold-out show at the Riviera Theater. And for the third time I had my mind blown.

Normally, I'm an advocate for the notion you can't buy happiness. However, Edward Sharpe & Co. prove to be the one exception. When you purchase a ticket to their show, it's impossible to leave without a smile plastered across your face.

Before I rant and rave about Edward Sharpe though, I have to give props to their opener He's My Brother She's My Sister. I'll admit I only went in knowing one song, their opener "How'm I Gonna Get Back Home Tonight," but by the time they had finished I wanted nothing more than to know every single track they made.

The sound at the Riviera was a bit distorted (a faulty microphone of some sort); so when they tried to banter with the audience between songs it became kind of awkward, as the crowd couldn't respond to words they couldn't understand. Technical difficulties didn't faze them though, and they rocked it with a tap dancer as a drummer -- just one of the few ways they bring a new sound to the indie-folk genre.

On to Edward Sharpe. I kept expecting to hear the dramatic intro of "40 Day Dream," but was shaken up when instead of stomping and clapping, the bouncy acoustic guitar of "Up From Below" started their set. The crowd took off, and by the first round of the chorus they entire theater was dancing and singing together. In merely a matter of minutes they had elevated the whole audience and brought them up to whatever level it is the band operates on.

It was mystifying. They translated all the loud rambunctious energy they had just conjured into fiery passion, as Jade stole the stage on their second song "Fiya Wata." While it was released on their second album, this is actually one of their older songs (perhaps you recognize it as "River of Love"?). It still amazes me that it was left off of Up From Below, but hey, better late than never. Jade has one of the strongest and most beautiful voices in the music industry right now, and as she belts out the lyrics, it paralyzes you in shock and awe.

As the closing trumpet of "Fiya Wata" faded into the opening piano of "40 Day Dream" the crowd erupted in a frenzy of graceful chaos. The sea of hot sweaty bodies surged every time frontman Alex Ebert came down into the crowd (which is a common occurrence during their show), and all you could do was breathe in happiness as the band and packed audience sang and danced.

They proceeded to balance out the set by mixing songs from their sophomore album Here between their big hitters "Janglin'" and "Home." Particularly notable was their new hit "I Don't Wanna Pray." Varnished with a very authentic old-timey feel, it's a fairly simple number, nothing too intricate or special. But perhaps that's the beauty of it -- the way they pour their heart and soul into music, and the crowd can't help but mirror it. You wind up with a theater full of folks proclaiming they're done pleading to God, and I gotta say that it beats every church experience I've ever had.

Of course, it all had to come to an end, but it was quite the rally. The piano and clapping started and they broke into an extended version of "Om Nashi Me." All hands were thrown in the air as the audience swayed and chanted the whoa-ohs. It is a song of few words, but carries a perfect message for a closing number: "I'll love you. And I'll love you forever. And I'm loving you now."

I think it's safe to assume by the end of the show Alex and his merry band of misfits had indeed wooed everyone in the vicinity and captured a part of their heart. Spellbound, the audience remained captivated till the last second of the show as the band induced various faux stops and starts, waiting until they were sure all attendees were radiating pure adoration and delight to warm the Chicago night.
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