Artist Spotlight: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

It’s no easy feat playing a festival. When a band climbs onto that giant stage, they have to work with all their might to try and bridge the distance between themselves and their fans. No one makes it look quite as effortless as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, who have an incredible natural ability to make even the biggest shows feel intimate…

Their performances are a unique celebration of love and life, buoyed by the undeniable chemistry between founding members (and one-time couple) Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos. They flutter around onstage, teetering over the ledge until they finally jump the barrier and work their way to the middle of the audience.

Still, at the heart of every great performance is musicianship. Despite having only been together for a few short years, the eleven-piece band is just as tight as any group of old pros. Ebert signals band members (most of whom are multi-instrumentalists) with a nod or flick of the wrist before the song goes into a rollicking jam, breathing new life into old favorites like “Janglin’” and “40 Day Dream.” Few bands this size are willing to let things get so unpredictable onstage, but it shouldn’t be surprising that a band inspired by a fictional messianic figure is gutsier than most.

Their new self-titled album was originally conceived as a companion piece to 2012’s powerful Here. They’ve taken their sunny Southern California folk-pop and expanded upon it with more exotic instrumentation, orchestral swells, and hazy 1960s-style production. Rolling Stone said the album’s huge sound “conjures a California-commune Arcade Fire,” which might be the greatest compliment they’ve ever received. But more than anything, they just want everyone to have a good time. The second line of “Better Days” says it all: “We don’t have to talk, Let’s dance!”

So if you’re going to St. Louis, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. But before embracing your inner hippie and joining the love-in at LouFest, give Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros’ new self-titled album a spin on Spotify.