Reviewed on Thursday April 10
The last time Alex Ebert and his friends rolled into Sydney, they had the 13,000-plus Mumford fans crammed into the Sydney Entertainment Centre (as it was then called) standing on their tippy-toes, clapping feverishly and singing along karaoke-style to ‘Home’ in a cultish induction that would have them reconvene two years later for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros’ own headline show.
Beards and gin at the ready, tonight’s sold-out crowd fills every corner of the Enmore. A seated back section harbours Woodstock vibes with unbrushed hair and thrifted wardrobes, while at the front the tweenies bop restlessly, a clumped amoeba of sorts.
Named after their hometown (fun fact: the first place in Australia to see the sun every morning), local indie rockers Mt Warning are the first phenomenon we witness tonight. The three-piece offers up a grunge-laden appetiser of a set, punctuated by silences and slinky guitar rhythms. Eventually, the crowd surrenders its attention, immersed in lead man Mikey Bee’s glottal-stopping vocal prose and stunning vibrato.
“I am a man on fire,” croons golden boy Ebert, looking every bit the folk messiah centre-stage in his comfy-loafers-and-striking-crimson-blazer ensemble. His messy top-bun is the epitome of grimy-chic, bouncing around as he gallivants from one side of the stage to the other, kissing fans’ foreheads and hunching over to catch some in warm embraces, mid-song. TMZ, in their ten-piece glory, command the room.
Grinning at his female counterpart, the footwear-forgoing Jade Castrinos, Ebert casually throws out a question to his wonderstruck spectators. “Well, what do you wanna hear next?” Their entire catalogue is fought for, ‘Give Me A Sign’ eventually winning and prompting the band into steady, beautifully organic a capella harmonies. Castrinos waltzes down to the floor, pulling playfully at her long emerald dress, and all are entranced. With any hint of a pre-planned setlist down the drain, the band delivers a room-blitzing opener to ‘I Don’t Wanna Pray’, while Ebert offers the microphone to a ‘randomly selected’ audience member to sing whatever she likes. In true blockbuster form, she belts out a verse with a perfect Southern Americana twang, sending the audience into euphoric screams and applause.
The Californians themselves prove jacks of all genres, from roots to reggae, folk-pop, classical jazz and even a bit of Rastafarian rap. By the time the cathartic ‘Home’ shakes the room, the entire top balcony is on foot, leaning over the rails with dangerous desperation to get a final glimpse. You can almost still hear them humming.