ESMZ: Coming to a festival near you

May 28, 2015
David Wexler

The summer music festival season has arrived, and if the 2015 spring tour is any indication, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros fans can expect anything – and everything.

The Zeros are headed to the Electric Forest Festival in Grant Township, Mich., Summerfest in Milwaukee, Hinterland Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, The Arise Musical Festival in Loveland, Colo., and The Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas. ESMZ also announced a slew of festivals in Canada, including The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, Quebec City Music Festival, Pemberton Music Festival, Osheaga Musis and Arts Festival in Montreal and the Toronto Urban Roots Fest.

On March 19 – inside the packed Central Presbyterian Church at Southwest By Southwest in Austin, Texas – the band debuted its fourth studio album in its entirety, giving the Sharpies a taste of what’s to come.

SunFest, West Palm Beach

SunFest, West Palm Beach (Photo credit: DubEra)

“Playing a full set of new songs is, of course, not a totally original idea – just a couple of years ago, Phish, with whom Edward Sharpe shares a penchant for experimentation, if a different aural palate, did just that at a Halloween show,” writes Jeff Miller of Billboard magazine. “But to do it at South By, where there are literally thousands of options both more-and-less recognizable right outside the door, is a risk that deserves to be lauded at least as much as the collection of hypnotic, lush songs the band delivered.”

The Austin crowd “ate up every piano plunk and acoustic strum – as well they should have,” says Miller. Alex Ebert, who recently shaved his trademark beard for the first time in nine years, reportedly made his piano debut on the tune “Uncomfortable.” For Miller, the highlight of the set was the mid-album song “Bunununu,” which he described as “an oddly funky, odd-timed shouter with an Ennio Morricone coda: all trumpet lines and piano hits, over a dreamy, desert soundscape.”

The band recorded the album last November and December in Ebert’s recording studio in New Orleans. ESMZ has yet to announce the release date for the new album or the album’s title. But Miller seemed optimistic that fans will not be disappointed.

“This new album seems to have found a way to figuratively replace them with something resembling an air of feminine mystique, albeit one that hangs out in the desert air, lushly blowing acoustic teases in your ear,” Miller writes. “The experiment of dropping these songs live worked, singularly: now, it’s just a matter of seeing if they translate in the studio as well.”

In addition to their SXSW performance at the Community Music Showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church, ESMZ played at the open-to-the-public Feedback event, hosted by syndicated TV host and author Rachael Ray, as well as the Fader Fort special kids’ show.

The Zeros will kick off the summer tour with shows on June 16, in Washington, D.C., and June 17 in Boston.

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