Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Lead singers Alex Ebert’s messianic energy coupled with Jade Castrinos belting cuteness made Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros one of the best performances of the weekend. The ten-piece folk collective is a throwback from the sounds of Baez, Joplin and Cat Stevens. Friday’s crowd started sparsely but by the time Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were scheduled, the line to enter the festival was wrapped around the west side of the library. During their set, Alex climbed onto the speakers and sang out into the crowd while the band danced across the stage doing what they do best. Partway through the set, Alex announced that the band was going to join the fans in the audience for a promo photo. Most of the band climbed off the 8’ stage through the photo pit and over the fence. The band shot the photo with a few thousand fans sitting on the grass around them before performing “Brother” over a single guitarist playing on stage. Later in the set, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performed their hit “Home” to a mass audience crescendo of cheers. Alex’s mid-song storytelling was handed off to the crowd and even the jabs at Sheriff Joe couldn’t break the feel good performance of the festival.
Fayuca with Jason Devore
Before Fayuca, a local Arizona Latin punk trio, took the local stage, the promoter tipped us off to the fact that Jason DeVore, lead singer of Authority Zero, would join Fayuca on “Shoot It Up” for the recording of the live video. No less than four video cameras followed the crowd, DeVore, Gabriel announcing the guest singer, Raf speed drumming, and Jared hamming it up Gene Simmon’s-style all over stage. The energy of the crowd swept through the night, and the sound segued well into the next local stage band Cousins of the Wize.
Black Thought’s MCA Tribute
Saturday’s headliner, The Roots, have been performing together since 1987, have taken home a handful of Grammys, and now perform as Jimmy Fallon’s house band. While the lineup for Saturday felt like a mish mosh of several genres, the anticipation of The Roots closing out the night sizzled with anticipation through the crowd. QuestLove, founding member of The Roots, drummer impresario, and infamous instagrammer slowly built up a beat as Black Thought, lead singer, began talking about fallen musicians before finally focusing on MCA. Then The Roots tore into a mashup of the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” to ignite the frenzied crowd before performing through an almost two hour set that demonstrates why they’re such an important musical act.
Wow. Friday night killed with bands like Kongos and, Dry River Yacht Club and The Shins. Saturday was an eclectic group from Mergence’s alt rock pop country indie vibe to The Roots neo soul hip/hop R&B rock funk, but Sunday was a different ball game. Rolling into Sunday most of us weekenders were sunburnt with feet like weights, but then JGB took the stage. The Jerry Garcia band carried on the legacy of Jerry after his death when Melvin Seale’s (thankfully) wouldn’t let them jam band just fizzle away; aptly titles JGB sans their iconic lead guitarist, this band seamlessly rolled into the early afternoon. Old hippies and young hippies alike kicked up grass and spun shirtlessly in straw dresses through the happy crowd. Whoever scheduled JGB, Jared & The Mill, Dr. Dog, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Yonder Mountain String Band, Future Loves Past, and Umphrey’s McGee together expertly playing to a smiling crowd of concert-goers.
decker.’s schedule change
We in the Arizona music scene have often tried to define the sound of Arizona music. While some of us believe there are three distinct sounds that are emerging, others take the easy way out by discussing the ambiguity of the phrase. For me, though, decker. is Arizona music. decker. was originally scheduled early on Sunday for the main stage but ended up performing midday on the Last Exit Live stage. While the shift confused some, it was a good move for the Sedona-based band. After spending the early afternoon enjoying the sounds of other bands, snacking, and napping in the sun, front musicians Brandon Decker and Kelly Ann Cole stepped up to their mics to perform several songs from their recently released Slider. The crowd loved the freshness of Kelly’s haunting female voice taking the lower notes of their harmony. The understated lyrics in songs like “Shadow Days” with the line “I got a little bit of the fire left” made me smile. They had a whole helluva lot of fire left, as I’ve not found myself so lost in a set since John Frusciante played on Stadium Arcadium.
Future Loves Past
Until Future Loves Past took the local stage late on Sunday no other Last Exit Live stage shows were announced from the main stage. When this show was announced, a nice sized crowd moved as one from the main festival area to the sounds of Future Loves Past on the second stage. The energy from Yonder Mountain String Band and the dancing, smiling fans just continued through the FLP set. Their song “Earth” had the hippy crowd and scene kids linking arms through early twilight before heady hoop tribe hula hoop dancers crawled onto stage as they jammed through the end of their set.