Tara and I missed seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros a few weeks ago when they came to town with Mumford and Sons. So when we heard they were going to play the McDowell Mountain Music Fest
in Scottsdale, she picked up tickets and we drove up to the land of shiny cars.
The McDowell Mountain Music fest is a strange affair. Its a weekend long series of moderately popular bands tied loosely together by the terms "folk" and "blues" held in a parking lot made into a park by sacrificial sod that gives its life in the service of Scottsdale's finest hipster families and local hippie wannabes. Now maybe that's a little harsh... or maybe I'm just disappointed that we can't seem to do a music fest proper so as to attract the kind of true hippiedom that inspires people to tiedie their business suits? Either way, its was still a pretty fun deal and a great place to enjoy a cool breeze on a Sunday afternoon.
We got there in time to catch Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears
. The best way to describe them would be to say just go watch The Blues Brothers. Trumpets blared, people danced, and folks rolled around on stage like their souls were bound to the music. It was weird, fun, and a great setup for Edward Sharpe who found their way to the stage just after dark.
If you haven't heard of Edward Sharpe - then go listen to Home
and come back... all done? Fun, folky, though not really life changing in any way. They are what seems to be the next breed of Dave Mathews/Phish/Umphrees McGee like bands born from the hemp seeds left around the country by the Greatful Dead. Like all those other band they are also really really great in concert -- finding whatever magic their studio attempts lack. They have a wonderfully fun and inspiring stage presence, and are quite the big ensem - I think they had 9 people on stage at one point including piano, banjo, accordion and horn players. Not sure how a band that size survives these days... guessing they moonlight as a yard crew?
Anyway - like most everyone - Tara and I started out just lounging in beach chairs on the "grass", but found ourselves drawn up to the stage. They band sang just softly enough too lure you in, and acted just silly enough to keep you there. What really sold us on the night though, was watching them pull a couple of fans up on stage to sing Home with them. This not only made their day/week/life? but it really made mine too. Its a rare thing to see a band to treat their fans with that much love/respect/trust and I think I'll forever be a fan of Edward Sharpe for that.
I don't think these guys will ever warrant the kind of patchouli fueled devotion that made Dead Heads live out of vans, sleep in fields, and subsist off a diet of grilled cheese sandwiches, but I'll certainly see them again anytime they are in town.