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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The unlikely pairing of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Rocco DeLuca’s four-hour Rialto Theater spectacle

    The unlikely pairing of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Rocco DeLucas four-hour Rialto Theater spectacle

    Value is a hot-button topic in this economy. Big box and dollar stores reign supreme, thrift stores are in vogue, and used car sales are on the rise. It’s all about stretching a dollar. But when howling bluesman Rocco DeLuca and cultish folk-pop outfit Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros come together, it’s the ultimate definition of bang for your buck.

    During a show at the Rialto Theatre on Thursday, the two bands acted as improbable foils to each other — and delivered a non-stop production spanning emotions, genres and almost four hours of music.

    Rocco DeLuca literally and figuratively shined as the opening act, relying on a single searchlight to eerily illuminate him during his set.

    DeLuca’s artistry was so powerful that he needed only his resonator guitar and a stomp box to captivate the crowd. His solo act traded pop appeal for the most haunting of blues, a departure from his material with his former band, Rocco DeLuca and The Burden.

    The Californian is best known for his take on slide guitar and he exhibits a mastery far beyond most one-man acts. Between tunes of misery and fear, DeLuca pulled out an homage to Etta James when he performed a rendition of “At Last” that turned heads throughout the venue. Possessing a distinctive vocal range, DeLuca made his take on the perennial classic half plea and half hallelujah, and a modern-day classic as well.

    As soon as Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros bounded onto the stage, full of energy, it was easy to remember why vocalist Alex Ebert and his motley crew have garnered such reverence. The 10-member band began a symphonic ceremony fit for eras much older than our own. Hyperactive frontman Ebert ran from end to end of the stage, slapping hands and leading the crowd in revival-style anthems that would put church choirs to shame.

    Drawing in a crowd of high schoolers and baby boomers alike, the ever-timeless Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros can be viewed as a modern spin on the “jam band” format. As the group has only released one album thus far, it drew on the individual members’ own material at times, including singles from Ebert’s solo act as well as a downtempo blues-infused number from guitarist Christian Letts.

    The band is far more than its once-omnipresent single “Home,” and displayed virtuosity from all members on “Black Water” and “Om Nashi Me,” inviting the crowd to chant along at times.

    In a humble and lighthearted act, Ebert invited select members of the crowd onstage for the set-closing performance of “Home.” The invitation soon turned into a frenzied spectacle as kids clamored to join the band for its most notable song to date.

    Despite thoroughly irritating Rialto personnel, Ebert’s and Co.’s lackadaisical nature made lifelong memories for a few lucky fans. That carefree approach is a key part of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros’ appeal. It’s a rare quality that comes from the total nonchalance the band exudes, easily translating from public persona to backstage banter.

    When asked how he can captivate a crowd for almost three hours with little rest, Ebert is quick to minimize his role in the evening’s otherworldly events.

    “Being up there is the easy part,” Ebert said. “I don’t know how you guys can dance for two and a half hours.”

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