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Watch Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' emotional desert performance


“I can smell the weed through my screen,” one of the comments under this video reads. And, hey, they’re not wrong. However, I’d be cautious to reduce this performance from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to a simple stoned jaunt. There’s so much more beneath the surface.

This is a live performance like no other, with the entirety of their giant band standing around and jamming outdoors as they play one of their most famous songs, ‘Home’, which can often be accredited with starting the folky, hey-ho hipster music trend that many bands and songs adopted after the fact. It’s both extremely intimate and sparklingly extroverted.

The full sound of the instrumentals has a special quality when played live in this setting—standing and walking around casually. It feels different even from festival performances or their NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The song has an improvisational quality, and it carries throughout the instrumentation. 

However, for most fans who step into the magical world of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, it’s the vocals they choose to focus on. Jade Castrinos has been known for her ability to balance softness with effortless power and whimsy, and it shows in nearly every performance, and Alex Ebert plays off of this with a tender, genuine warmth. 

But even with these vocals and fun instrumentals that lend themselves to psychedelic sensibilities and free-flowing hippie soundscapes, there’s a lot floating beneath the surface of this video.

Jade Castrinos left the band in 2014, but this was only after she and Ebert called their romantic relationship quits in the midst of a tour. Her departure was somewhat heated, with Castrinos claiming that the band voted her out and the rest of the band claiming she left on her own accord.

Although the video was posted over a year before her departure, people seem to perceive a lot of tension between the leads, especially when it comes to their improvisation of a new conversation during the break in the music rather than sticking to the original from the recording. 

I can see where they’re coming from. Her voice dips lower on the chorus, and the pair look at one another and routinely look away. It seems a little more forlorn—like they know the end is in sight. But fans are also eager to see the future in footage like this, especially for artistic couplings they’re passionate about.

After Jade’s departure from the band, Alex Ebert said in an interview, “Some are upset. Every other show, someone will ask where’s Jade, but there’s nothing I can do about it. Fans have been upset that I’ve had a baby with my girlfriend and not with Jade. It’s just ridiculous. The intention of the band is greater than the personnel.”

It seems that they would prefer their privacy on matters such as this. But if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that their live performances never seem to disappoint.

If you want to check out this incredible live performance, you can watch it down below.