"Hey Marcus Mumford! Wanna come sing with us?"
That invitation is a sure-fire way to get 20,000 people screaming, especially when you're Alex Ebert, leader of Los Angeles' folk-pop collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and you're at Sasquatch, inviting the night's headliner out for a quickie jam.
Also included in "us" is Jade Castrinos, the band's sassy and button-cute co-frontperson, and behind them was an eight-piece band. Together with Mumford they rollicked through "Child," the upbeat folk tune from the band's 2012 LP Here, delivering Sunday's daytime highlight at Sasquatch. When Marcus Mumford unexpectedly joins onstage, you stand up, dammit.
Violins and keys tinkered as the song, a sort of psychedelic take on Americana folk with group vocals, grew and swelled. "The voices in my head are shadows, shadows," they sang, the harmonizing lifting on the repeated words. "The ocean how she moves in ripples, ripples." The cute yet introspective ditty sounded absolutely fantastic, and acted as the soundtrack to yet another dramatic display from mother nature, as the sky across the Gorge, miles and miles away, opened up and dumped. Right here, though, it was all sunshine, figuratively and literally. Mumford smiled and beamed in his Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses.
The friendship between Edward Sharpe and Mumford & Sons flourished on tour in 2011. Along with Old Crow Medicine Show, the bands embarked on a multi-day trek from Oakland to New Orleans, playing six concerts along the way. They traveled, naturally, by a 14-car train. They so would. Big Easy Express, a documentary film about the tour and the music and friendships it produced, was released last year.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' happy-hippie vibe is positively infectious in the film, and it was the same onstage Sunday. They played an hour of tracks from their three albums, nodding to reggae (Ebert delivered a Rasta rap, Matisyahu style), psych rock and old-timey saloon music, while lapping it up onstage. There was a whole lot of skipping and twirling going on up there.
Predictably, the other big moment came with "Home," the ubiquitous single from Here. When Edward Sharpe play "Home," you stand up, dammit.
That unforgettable whistle hook heralded a dance party, from the pit to the top of the hill, as Ebert and Castrinos sang like lovedrunk young Southerners. "Alabama, Arkansas, I sure do love my ma and pa," she cooed with a fake drawl. Totes adorbs.
The band repeated the song's mid section, lowering the volume as Ebert jumped into the crowd and requested a story, popping the microphone into the faces of various fans at the front. Most were bashful gushing about the Los Angeles band. "Okay now, who has a real one," Ebert asked again, unsatisfied. He saw a starry-eyed girl, motioned her toward the stage and gave her the mic. She spoke of seeing the sun, the sky and the moon, all at the same time, and how they aligned for Edward Sharpe's set. Yep, that sounds about right.