Edward Sharpe Draws a Huge Crowd at Bonnaroo

edward_sharpe-kyle_dean_reinford-02-main.jpg
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros / Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
WRITTEN BY
Stacey Anderson

If anyone still doubts that Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are the new Pied Pipers of hippie kids and trustafarians, they were not in the Other Tent audience on Friday.

The latest melodic mini-cult from singer Alex Ebert (formerly of Ima Robot) lured an impressively large crowd to their early-afternoon performance: Young Bonnaroo patrons in tie-dye bikini tops and board shorts spilled out from the awnings for a hundred feet in every direction, craning to see their messianic Ebert, who, for his part, seemed bewildered.

"I bet you haven't seen this on a stage yet, people onstage not knowing what to do," he said, strolling languidly among the nine other stock-still members of his folk-pop militia. "It's a new concept. People are going to start copying us."

And indeed, the Zeros' set list was like a shakily construed shuffling of their 2009 LP, Up From Below. Single "Carries On" was a galvanizing centerpiece; those diaphanous, neo-psych "oooo-eeees" sounded spooky en masse, and the wistful homeward-bound lines reflected the Wizard of Oz Emerald City mural at the rear of the stage. (Ebert would make one great Manson-esque Scarecrow, if Tim Burton's gunning for a remake.)

"Carries On"'s uptempo gait broke up the hazy lull of several slower, more interchangeable folk meanderings, including what sounded like a "Jade"/"Home" mini-mashup.

Shortly after that, an amp squealed in furious protest in the heat. "Sorry we're extra-unorganized tonight," Ebert said, his speaking voice as blithely spacey as his singing. It was 3pm.

"40 Day Dream"'s lyrical entreaty of "Bitch I swear, go crazy/ She got jumper cable lips/ She got sunset on her breath" sounded nearly tender in Ebert's soft, cavernous keen, as his supporting singer and ex-girlfriend Jade Castrinos chimed in with vaguely resentful-sounding murmurs. Gradually, as more rootsy harmonies swelled beneath her, and trumpets slid in for good measure, she sounded a bit less irked.

When it came to the group's cornerstone hippie aesthetics, Ebert and his allies did not disappoint.

Appropriate to a conceptual group birthed from Ebert's idea of a modern Christ-like figure felled by mortal distractions, every one of the ten L.A.-based members looked like Venice Boardwalk laze-abouts with open credit lines at Urban Outfitters. Loose, flowing tops and Steven Tyler-worthy scarves abounded; a bare-chested Ebert frequently toyed with his blood-red neckwear, when not tangling his hands in his towering, matted hair. ("He looks like Sideshow Bob," I said to a nearby 20-something, hoping he shared the Simpsons nerdery. "Who's that? Is he that guy who teaches yoga here?" D'oh.)

DIY rainbow headdresses -- ubiquitous on this year's attendees and composed of multicolored feathers, rhinestones and, on more than a few occasions, a repurposed luggage strap -- bobbed throughout the horde of Zeros acolytes. Where did these come from, and will they last? The fauxhemian accessory could just be riding the tide of the Zeros' flash-flood popularity, or vice versa.

00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
placeholder
Now Playing
  • 1 J Dilla — Give Em What They Want " 02:45
  • 2 Low Leaf — Set Me Free " 02:13
  • 3 Doe Paoro — Nobody " 03:05
  • 4 Chromeo with Ezra Koenig — Ezra's Interlude " 01:55
  • 5 The Julie Ruin — Brightside " 03:04
  • 6 Mirel Wagner — What Love Looks Like " 03:07
  • 7 Amen Dunes — I Can't Dig It " 04:53

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA