Photos by: Charlie Homo

The closing nights of the last two Noise Pop festivals have focused not only on musical quality, but on the credo of the more outrageous live performance. See: 2009′s Les Savy Fav antics at the Mezzanine. For 2010, this meant bringing together the harmonious indie rock collective du jour: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.


The former Ima Robot man (Alex Ebert) and his merry bunch have cultivated a significant following over the past year, not just for the appreciation of the songs on 2009′s Up from Below. Although, for my money, “Home” is one of the most genuinely endearing and wonderful songs to have emerged in the past many years, one of the better musical representations of true love, fleeting or not (“Home / Let me come home / Home is whenever I’m with you”).


In fact, the significance of “Home” applies to more than just Ebert and his adorably talented girlfriend, Jade Castrinos, despite the fact that they perform the song as a duet and the song seems to directly revolve around their relationship. The Polyphonic Spree-like collective of the Zeros played together on Sunday at Bimbo’s not just as a seemingly rag-tag group of chums, but as a legitimately gifted, charismatic group of musicians who truly enjoy playing together as friends. As Edward said at one point, “I apologize, we just really really like playing together. Thanks for putting up with us.”


Essentially, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, as long as they are together, are always “home,” no matter where they actually happen to be – and the collective love is palpable. During Sunday’s ruckus, “Home” was performed with absolute certainty, with a joyous grace and explosive energy that was absolutely awe (and “awww”)-inspiring.


Opening the evening was The Northern Key, a local band that just released a self-titled album via Tricycle Records, recorded at Different Fur Studios with Chris Chu (the Morning Benders). The performance, while low-key, was straightforward and lovely – a blend of indie folk and lush musicianship.


We were then presented with recent Wisconsin-Bay Area transplants that are fixing to burst any time soon. AB & and the Sea‘s sunny, vintage surf pop stays directly true to its Beach Boy roots, and is sweet and infectious beyond belief. Frontman Koley O’Brien even dressed the part for the band’s stint on Bimbo’s stage, complete with vintage jean jacket, striped shirt tucked into jeans and 50s greased-up hair. Since other recent performances, AB & the Sea’s staple song (“Yellow Haired Girl”) has been fleshed out and formed into a potentially stellar single, aided by the addition of a keyboard player to the band’s lineup.


The Watson Twins, hailing from Los Angeles, were similar but not the same – same length hair but different texture, same necklines/outfit colors but different clothing, similar but not identical stage movements, jazzy voices that fit perfectly together but are nonetheless distinct. Their music makes for a lovely blend overall, bass-heavy and full of sumptuous harmonies.

Seeing as this sold out quite awhile ago, the packed crowd went wild as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros took to the stage. This show was a celebration, a wonderful display of music, friendship, and love. The band managed to close a festival that already thrives on collectivity with a homey, unrestrained performance – inspiring an overall sense of exuberance, from which no one was spared.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros








The Watson Twins



AB & the Sea



The Northern Key

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