The sun began to set over South Boston, last Wednesday in a messianic kind of way. Fluorescent tones of oranges and purples cast a brilliant light over the industrial-inspired residential buildings of D Street. A sharp contrast of green grass and straw fedoras illuminated bright smiles and the warm embers of concert-goers on the Lawn on The D. Nestled in between all of the concrete, on the edge of the blossoming Seaport District, spirits hung high as a throng of 20-somethings downed cans of summer IPAs and lemon shandies in anticipation for the indie folk magic of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.
My mom and I found our way through the sold-out show, hand-in-hand, with her other hand clutching a glass of cabernet. We careened our way through and around hundreds of blankets sprawled out over the great, new lawn and up to the front of the stage. We giggled, feeling the warm buzz of dinner’s wine and gourmet pasta settle in on us; mom professed her undying gratitude to the cab driver, claiming he had “saved her life,” as she looked down on the painful blisters manifesting on her toes. A hard week of painting my apartment finally coming to fruition: the laid back environment of this particular event made the possibilities seem endless.
Alex Ebert and his tribe of ever-evolving, ever-changing bandmates made their way on stage a little after 8 p.m. Ebert, draped in neutral tones and his quintessential top knot, looked out onto his audience with ease: his hand casually hung in his front pocket. The group opened up with a banger, “40 Day Dream,” and the eclectic audience went wild. As the night’s spiritual gurus played on, in their own kind of hippy harmony, a roaring crowd sang back in mass thunder.
My body took on a kind of effervescent sensation, my stomach filled with butterflies, and my cheeks embraced a pinkish, red hue. Something greater than myself was happening; and my body knew it before I even did. Something in the way Ebert meandered down from his platform and onto the green before him begged for a sense of the all-encompassing. Instead of rolling through a list of the hits with indifference, the frontman celebrated his fans by entreating them to participate around him.
Ebert flung his arms around gawking, slightly thrown off girls, whom in return bellowed the lyrics to such tracks at “Janglin,” “Life Is Hard,” and “Man On Fire.” In a call-and-response of sorts, this part man, part religious-like figure conveyed a comfort, confidence, and respect in his setting that is unlike many of performers out there.
Maybe this is kind of embarrassing to admit — or maybe it defers from the usual tropes I like to box myself into. I’m not typically the one to geek out over the hippie revivalists; but, something in this performance felt different. Yes, it was love and peace, and so far from punk rock, it almost made me giggle in nervousness. But, it felt sincere.
It felt sincere in the way Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros covered The Kinks’ “Apeman” and everyone knew the words, and it felt sincere in the fact that everyone was enjoying themselves without the onslaught of drugs (at least around me). It felt like a genuine, nearly innocent kind of pleasure. I think we all felt, even just for a minute, like we were 10 years old again out in the all-ages community fields of concerts our parents used to take us to before we knew any better. The entire night beckoned a calm that was very much refreshing.
As the band began the opening chords to “Home,” which remains Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros true calling card, my mom grabbed my hand: “I know this song! I love this song! Why didn’t you tell me, this was their song?” I started to laugh, put my arm around her waist, and the two of us swung, yelling the words — I think, feeling them — that sense of partnership, in their entirety together: “Home is wherever I’m with you…”