Tracy C. Gold


Get thee to an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Show—or at least to the 9:30 Club

on July 21, 2010

Shock and disgust: the reaction I’m used to getting from friends who live in the DC area when they find out that I, lover of live music as I am, have never been to DC’s 9:30 Club. No more can they scorn me, because last night, my 9:30 Club virginity was taken by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and it couldn’t have been a more lovin’ affair.

Before, I was a casual fan of their hits—you may know “Janglin” from the Ford Fiesta commercial featuring the song—but didn’t know or care much for the rest of their music. Yet, with 10 band members, and special guests occasionally accompanying them, these wild haired hippies know how to lay down a show.

The show was not without its suspense. While waiting for tickets, we all saw Jade Castrinos, one of the band’s leads, climb into a cab, looking characteristically jolly. We checked our watches and wondered where she was going off to 30 minutes before the show was supposed to start. The tension built up as we waited for the show to start. Sure enough, the show was delayed about 30 minutes on account of a missing Jade.

Finally, a few members of the band come on to open, looking awkward and lost without Jade. And the show faltered on, Jade-less and sad. Yet, all the sudden, a blaze in a plaid dress came on stage, bouncing and smiling: Jade at last. Like children who lost their mother in a busy shopping mall and finally found her, the other members of the band came to life, and finished an energized opening set.

This set, as fun as it was, was just the beginning. As my friend insisted, it was not “dance-your-face-off time” quite yet. After a short break—enough for a beer and a trip to the bathroom, but not much more—all 10 hippy happy members of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, guitars, trumpets, harmonicas, and accordions in tow, came on and started rocking out to Janglin. Hours of dance-your-face-off euphoria ensued, with circles of jumping up and down, and general love and hippiness filling the sold-out club. The 9:30 Club is small and dark—with space on the floor for a couple hundred people to stand and space on a balcony for maybe a few hundred more. The heat and aroma of the crowd was perfect: hippy music just doesn’t mesh when you’re not covered in sweat and beer.

Alex Ebert, the lead singer, went back and forth from the stage and the middle of the crowd. He lost his blazer before long, and played most of the show shirtless. His long dark hair was pulled up into wild knots on his head, and his vocals went between high pitched melody to thrumming, rhythmic poetry. Every single member of the band was ridiculous to watch—at one point during the show, there was even a sitar, and at all points, there was jubilation.

Ebert is the one in the middle, with his shirt off

Ebert is the one in the middle, with no shirt

Though the instruments and voices of the near dozen people on the stage were high energy, high awesomeness the whole time, the highlight of the show was actually during the encore. Ebert pulled out as much cord as he could, and dove into the middle of the crowd, microphone in hand. He took a seat on the beer and sweat soaked floor, and invited everyone else to do the same.

Honestly, the song he sang, 9:30 Club campfire style, was not very memorable, especially when I spent the first half of it scrambling to find the least disgusting place to sit. Regardless of what Ebert was singing, though, the experience worked. Almost everyone in the floor level of the crowded club took a chance and sat, whether they were wearing their coffee stained concert jeans, or their brand new white shorts. Sitting in such a tight space, we rubbed elbows with new people, and got down on the same level with hundreds of strangers. Awkward smiles shot around eventually turned to gently passed knowing looks as the slow song washed the beer we were sitting in out of our minds.

Since the theme of this blog is “learn something new every day,” here’s a how-to from someone who both works at and attends concerts.

5 tips on how to have an awesome time at a concert:

1. Let yourself be completely silly. No one wants to hang out with a smart, professional person at a concert. The more you dance like a fool, the more you’re cool.

2. Love your neighbors. While you’re succeeding at dancing like a fool, try, at least, not to overrun your neighbors. Or at least apologize if you do. Getting nasty glares from that girl next to you all night can seriously harsh your mellow.

3. Leave your personal space bubble at home. People are going to bump into you and spill things on you. Your toes will be stepped on. It’s a concert. Chill.

4. Listen before going. If you don’t know the band well, look them up and listen to them enough so that you know most of the words to at least a few of their songs. This way you won’t feel like a total loser when everyone but you is signing along.

5. Dress smart. Concerts, especially in small, indoor venues like the 9:30 Club, get really, really hot. You’re going to be a sweaty mess regardless, but shorts or a skirt will definitely take your sweat index down a notch.

Check out a video of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros live:

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