Outside the Pit is a recurring installment for Mosh Pit Report that focuses on the music we at Mosh Pit Report listen to when we're not moshing. We encourage our readers to check out all the artists we cover and expand outside some of their typical musical comfort zones.
Los Angeles folk rock collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are gearing up for the release of their fourth studio album, “PersonA” in just over a week. To celebrate the album, they’ve headed out on the road for a short promotional tour that features the group performing the new album in its entirety ahead of release day. All shows on the six city tour are taking place in small, intimate venues. On Monday night the tour came to Cambridge, MA where a sold out crowd at The Sinclair awaited.
As fans entered the venue they were offered free masquerade masks which many proudly donned. For these special shows Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros opted to tour without a supporting act, instead electing to offer up the opening slot to an open mic at each stop. At the Cambridge show, there were three solo performers and one trio that were each given the opportunity to perform a song in front of the crowd awaiting the show.
After the open mic performances took place, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took to the stage. Playing the album in full, but not in the album’s track order the group opened with the number “Somewhere” a jaunty, acoustic tune built off a riff similar to the iconic Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun.” Frontman Alex Ebert spent most of the evening using every inch of the small amount of room on the stage that wasn’t filled up with instruments, often times sitting on the front stage monitor while chatting with the crowd. Ebert’s stage presence is a large part of what has made the band’s success; he knows how to interact with the crowd, while still maintaining an enigmatic stage persona. During the song “Uncomfortable” Ebert sat down at the piano, playing and singing, driving a song with a massive, swelling orchestral sound that will undoubtedly sound it’s best when emanating from the grounds of large festivals this summer. The very next song, “Hot Coals” was a change in tone and scenery as the stage lights all turned to red, while Ebert pranced around the stage as if he were walking on hot coals.
Close to the end of the set, Ebert and the band performed “Lullaby” a song that was exactly what it’s title suggests. Ebert penned the song for his three year old daughter with the lyrics and melody of a lullaby. The final song of the set was the final song of the album, “The Ballad of Yaya” an upbeat song with a catchy chorus as well as thick and rich harmonies. There was no encore or any material from the band’s back catalog performed, as the group were focusing on their new album. The new material is vastly different from much of the band’s earlier work, during Monday’s show while speaking to the crowd Ebert lamented the ‘ho hey’ songs that have become so popular in the folk genre and said his group wanted to move away from those. The newer material is a more mellow, lengthy, jammed out sound similar to that of the iconic Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The intimate venue was another massive change for the large band, as it’s over 8 members managed to squeeze themselves and their instruments on the small stage. Typically Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are a band that grace the stage at large outdoor festivals – this summer they’ll headline Newport Folk Festival – so to take the stage indoors, at such an intimate venue was another example of the band doing something “Uncomfortable” as their song promotes, leaving their comfort zone to put on special shows for their fans. The night was a special experience for all involved as fans got an early look at what is sure to be a landmark album in the career of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.