Oceanside show features eclectic variety of musicians
At dusk on Sunday afternoon, near the end of his band’s set during the Independence Jam in Oceanside, Calif., The Whigs frontman Parker Gispert sat down at a keyboard.
“We tour a lot,” he said. “And a lot of towns have names for these cities, and they don’t really resonate. I think Oceanside is pretty spot-on.”
He’s right. Not just an apropos name for the city, Oceanside describes the stage The Whigs played on. Tucked under the pier not 10 yards from the sand, the small Oceanside Pier Plaza Amphitheatre might be better suited for community luau groups than large rock concerts. That didn’t stop San Diego’s FM 94.9 from hosting its Independence Jam there for a second time, and it made for the perfect venue to see the headliners for the night: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Eight groups played between two stages Sunday. White Apple Tree opened the afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Along with The Burning of Rome, The Nervous Wreckords and The Silent Comedy, these smaller San Diego bands were relegated to the “local stage” in the parking lot adjacent to the amphitheater. They served as a half-hour musical interlude while the larger bands broke down and set up the amphitheater stage.
The crowd didn’t dissipate much between the short sets at the amphitheater and with good reason: Everyone wanted a great spot for Edward Sharpe.
Delta Spirit opened the main stage at 5 p.m., followed by The Whigs. Early in their set, a fan stood at the front of the crowd holding up a sign asking, “Can I play bass on ‘Hot Bed’?” When The Whigs reached that song at the end of their set, they brought the fan onstage and Tim Deaux handed over his bass. “His name’s Peter, my name’s Parker, and together, we’re Spider-Man,” Gispert yelled.
Rogue Wave, a fun, summery band from Oakland, Calif. opened with “Stars and Stripes” just after sunset. Its peppy, melodic sound perfectly matched the locale. The crowd slowly filled in and as the band encouraged everyone to clap along to “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” part of the drum set fell over, a product, according to lead singer Zach Schwartz (aka Zach Rogue), of fans “rocking too hard with your rocking energy.” With “Kicking the Heart Out,” it closed out its show, and its crew made space for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
And they needed a lot of it. With 12 members playing a variety of instruments, including an accordion, a violin, a ukulele, two drum sets, two keyboards, two guitars and a few tambourines, lead singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos weren’t left with much room to wiggle and dance around the stage.
That didn’t stop them, however. And as if that wasn’t cramped enough, Ebert jumped down into the crowd multiple times, intensifying the emotional, jovial spark already present in the songs.
Take the plucky “Janglin.” Easily recognizable as the track from the Ford Fiesta commercials, Ebert and co. started their show with it, and could have shut off the microphones at any moment. Already, the crowd was singing along.
Before launching into “Forty Days,” Ebert asked the crowd, “Y’all want to do some stomping around?” and each time his foot landed, drummer Josh Collazo kicked the bass drum. On “Up From Below,” Collazo laid down a fast, swingy beat — one not present on the album — one of the many touches that increased the vivacity of the show.
That energy built through their signature song, “Home.” By the time Ebert and Castrino started their recognizable whistle, the entire crowd was on its feet, jumping, stomping and clapping.
When Ebert and Castrino turned to each other and ad-libbed their duet — “Jade?” “Hi, Alex.” “Remember that time we went down to Mexico?” — the emotion between the two was palpable. It personified the fun, communal spirit of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. If there were a roof over that amphitheater, it would have been blown right off the place.
And then the one drawback of the outdoor venue hit: noise ordinances. After just seven songs, the band ended its show at 10 p.m. The members did come back for an encore, allowing fans to flood the stage. So many joined them, Ebert and Castrino disappeared for a bit among a throng of people.
When they resurfaced, they looked all right with it. There, on the beach surrounded by their adoring fans, they looked like they were at home.