Is it fair to blame Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for the current state of indie-folk?
Some would counter with Mumford and Sons, the Grammy-winning act that certainly ranks as the top dog in the folksy rock pack. Yet, I see Edward Sharpe's 2009 smash "Home" as the definitive template for all the like-minded, peppy, whistle-friendly and entirely indistinguishable indie-folk singles that have hit radio over the last few years.
I'm talking about such inescapable cuts as Of Monsters and Men's "Little Talks" and the Lumineers' "Ho Hey." That's far from being a complete list, but most of the other tunes that use "Hey!" to punctuate the lyrics have (thankfully) faded from memory.
In a sense, it's only fair that Edward Sharpe's best-known song has produced so many copycats, given that "Home" sounds like a B-side to an old Rusted Root single. (Kids, ask your parents.)
Fortunately, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are much better than most of the bands they've inspired. That's especially true in concert.
The L.A. band, led by Alex Ebert of Ima Robot fame, was one of the highlights of the big BottleRock Napa Valley festival in May. The group's paisley-powered approach to indie-folk thrilled the large crowd, even though many fans probably weren't all that familiar with band's music (besides "Home") before entering the festival gates. The big headliners on that day were Kings of Leon and Jane's Addiction — too acts that share next to nothing in common with Edward Sharpe. (So, that's another thing Ebert's act has going for it.)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are currently touring in support of its third studio album, a self-titled release that reached as high as No. 14 on the Billboard 200 after hitting shelves in July. The band performs Friday, Sept. 20, at San Francisco's America's Cup Pavilion — which should be a great setting take in the Edward Sharpe experience.
Midlake opens the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $35-$39.50 (www.ticketmaster.com).
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.