Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Avett Brothers wow a sellout crowd


The Avett Brothers opened their two-night homecoming show Tuesday at the Belk Theater -- and it was easy to see why the bluegrass band from Concord is making waves in the music industry.


The guys -- Scott Avett on banjo/vocals, brother Seth on acoustic guitar/vocals, Joe Kwon on cello and Bob Crawford on bass -- started with a bang, opening the show with "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa" and quickly built on the sell-out crowd's energy, rarely slowing down for a break in their hour-and-a-half set and playing such favorites as "At the Beach" and "Salina" as well as newer songs such as "Standing With You."

At times, it seemed as though they were throwing their whole bodies into each note while playing multiple instruments at a time. The only people working harder than the band were the backstage crew who worked throughout the show to fix broken banjo strings and a kick drum that felt the full force of Scott Avett's enthusiasm for the music.

The biggest ovation of the night was saved for "Go to Sleep." The audience continued to sing the refrain from the song a full five minutes after the Avetts had left the stage. The guys returned to play a four-song encore consisting of "Colorshow," "The Lowering," "Kick Drum Heart" and "Salvation Song."

The energy from the stage was infectious and had everyone in the crowd -- from children to seniors -- up and out of their seats, dancing in the aisles. It's hard to imagine how raucous the show will be tonight on New Year's Eve.

But it was the Avetts who were most thankful:

"Thanks for having us home," Scott Avett said. "You are old friends and we thank you for coming."

(Tonight's New Year's Eve concert starts at 9. It's also sold out, but you might be able to buy tickets through Craigslist.)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

These guys seem to everywhere from Hollywood to San Francisco to NYC playing for Dave Letterman or Conan Obrien or signing Columbia record deals.
This is not real bluegrass. Flatts and Scruggs from Shelby NC pretty much invented that way back.
Hard to define this type of music these brothers label as New Grass but its def original.
Their voices have a very intense yet distant clear range and colleges and young adults are eating them up.
Very unique high energy different very original style.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to endanger myself by the people who "get" the Avetts, but I have to admit that I don't.

I've seen them twice and both times myself and those who were with me couldn't understand why they had any fans, much less the extreme fans they have. Their songs are great but the musicianship tends to be pretty bad, although I saw them last 3 years ago and maybe they learned how to play since then.

I've been a musician for 25 years and I can say with some authority that while I'm not criticizing the style of music they are, they most definitely aren't bluegrass. A kick drum and a cello don't belong in a bluegrass band to begin with and he plays the banjo Dixieland style, not 5-string picking (Scruggs style).

I sincerely would appreciate someone enlightening me about them; I try to be very open-minded but again, I just don't "get" them...

Anonymous said...

It was a great show! But I don't think it's accurate to characterize their music as "bluegrass."

Jim said...

Sarah, you are Hot!

Anonymous said...

I think that there is a since of realism to their music. Musicianship, vocals, throw that out the window in the traditional sense. People can relate. It's not about pop culture, or genre, it's about making real music. Call it bluegrass, rock, folk-rock...call it what you will, but when you pull a dedicated crowd like they do, you can't argue with it, you just have to respect it. I'm attending my first concert tonight and can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they play acoustic instruments but they are far from bluegrass. A banjo does not a bluegrass band make! They are definitely gonna step it up this year with the release of their new Rick Rubin-produced CD though. Congrats to the Avetts on a strong 2008 and looking forward to a stronger 2009!!

Sarah Aarthun said...

Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. This was my first time seeing the Avetts and I wasn't quite sure how to characterize their sound. How would you guys describe it?

Anonymous said...

I've been listening to the Avett's since 2003. And I can say, without a doubt, the boys have a style all their own. If anything, I'd call them singer/songwriter, but even that is a stretch since they're a group.

They range from pop (have a Beatles sound occasionaally) to rock to country to bluegrass to metal (google their previous band, 'Oh, What a Nightmare' for a shock)...

Easier not to pigeon hole them.

Rabbit said...

Genres of music tend to describe the people who play it more than the actual music. That is the case with anything from southern rock to alternative rock, to outlaw country.

They're a good band, but I cannot comprehend their rabid following. Saw them in Boone 2 years ago and they played to a sold out crowd for only an hour and a half. If you can't put on your best for your biggest fans, I have no time for you.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I'm a bluegrass fan and fan of most other genres and I don't get these guys either. I've seen them live and they're musical not very good and the sound is somewhat a mess. I have many friends whose tastes I respect and they love them. I guess I need to go to one more of their shows to give them another shot.

Anonymous said...

YEWWW!! Those boys are fun!! Nah, they're not for everybody, but they really make good, wholesome, honest music. I love em!!

Anonymous said...

sorry.. i don't get them either..
The sound is sloppy and vocals average at best.The phish like following speaks volumes.

Quint said...

To Anonymous that: "...don't mean to endanger myself by the people who "get" the Avetts, but I have to admit that I don't." These guys are serious musicians and performers! The Avetts do not bill their shows as strict bluegrass. Most of their fans love the genre tweak that helps them blow the roof off the building on every show. If you have been a musician for 25 yrs as claimed, and cannot appreciate what they do and how they do it, then I suggest you take up clay. - Quinton

Anonymous said...

Sometimes bands don't have enough material to play for more than 90 minutes. I'd rather see a band for 90 minutes of original material, then see them for 2 hours, with 30 minutes of it being covers.

Bootsy said...

My heart hurts for anyone who doesn't "get" the Avett Brothers music.

It wreaks of an epic honesty and is packaged with such pure passion. Its hard to imagine - that even the most trained of musicians - wouldn't crumple at the emotional range. I'll leave the musicianship behind for lyrics that make me swoon like these... however - these kids know what to do with their instruments too. I love the addition of Joe Kwon on the Cello.

I was part of this crowd that sang for the 5 minutes before the encore and never have I ever wanted a band to come back out more than this night!!! Despite the predictability of an encore.

I've never seen these guys not mean it.

miclmiclmtrcycl said...

I don't think anyone really needs to "get" anything. The bluegrass label (and all other labels) are something that they try to avoid anyway. Look back at their Nemo days and you can see where the energy and less refined nature comes from, and also why bluegrass snobs may not appreciate them. It's the rough edge that helps deliver a great deal of heart that goes into those songs. You can find interviews where they confess that they don't practice their instruments as much as they should because they put so much into those songs, and that's what so many appreciate. I can't speak for them, but judging from the humility that I've seen so far, I think that this is the last conversation they'd want to be had. Cheers to them for all their hard work and character, and cheers to all those that have supported a very talented and innovative group of great guys. There's just so much there to be positive about, and that's what it is.

Anonymous said...

This show was killer. I have seen these guys a bunch from small clubs in Wilmington, to the stage at Telluride during the day and the Sheridan Opera House at night. I love bluegrass and would in no way consider the Avett Brothers to be bluegrass. If you don't "get it", just let go of expectations and feel the raw energy. I would consider this just visceral music straight from the heart. If you have a mix tape that includes both Ralph Stanley and Black Flag you might be able to "get it". If not, stay home so I can get a better ticket.