Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Avett Brothers Deliver Rollicking Two Hour Set

The Avett Brothers' music is hard to pigeonhole into just one genre, as they blend elements of country, bluegrass, folk, rock, and pop into a delicious musical stew. On Friday night at the brand new BMO Harris Pavilion, the band was firing on all cylinders.

Opening with the gentle-beginning "Laundry Room," the band exploded into the second half of the song with an almost punk-rock like energy and careened into the raucous bluegrass murder ballad "I Killed Sally's Lover." The Avett Brothers thrashed away on their instruments -- particularly striking was cellist Joe Kwon's furious headbanging --with an energy that propelled both band and crowd through a marathon two-hour set.

Biggest cheers of the night were for songs from The Avett Brothers' major-label breakthrough I and Love and You, but tunes from the other albums were received just as well.

Faring not as well were songs sprinkled in from the forthcoming album The Carpenter. Some people sprung for the beer or bathrooms lines, and others may or may not have left for good. Songs like the lead single "Live and Die" and "Love Like The Movies" were standard Avett Bros. fare, while "Winter In My Heart" sounded like something more suited for a generic country radio station. I'm betting those songs will grow on people when the album comes out, however.

As the set went on, it became apparent that the overflow "standing room only" area was not the place to be if you were interested in hearing the softer numbers. The tender, moving "Murder in the City" was practically ruined by the people more interested in talking to their friends instead of listening to the music.

One might think a band without a full-time drummer, and one which uses acoustic instruments (guitar, banjo, stand-up bass, and cello) would have a hard time competing with the other music going on at the festival, but they didn't. And just to prove they knew how to rock, they went electric for the fantastic "Kick Drum Heart" and at the end Scott Avett (it could have easily been Seth, though) ripped off a fierce solo that sounded suspiciously like it could have turned into "Freebird" at any second. That would have been a hell of an ending, but with plenty of gas left in the tank they played six more songs after that including the encore.

The Avett Brothers could have easily jogged to the finish line. Personally, I was tired and ready to go home, and all I had to do was stand there. Instead, they sprinted to the end with a rocking rendition of "Talk on Indolence." The entire 25-song set was delivered with a sincere graciousness and Southern bonhomie. They wanted to be here; the crowd wanted them here; and we were rewarded with the Avett Brothers playing their hearts out and leaving everything they had on the stage.

I feel like no one was left wanting more. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Set List:
Laundry Room
I Killed Sally's Lover
Will You Return?
Down With The Shine (new song)
And It Spread
Denouncing November Blue
January Wedding
Slight Figure of Speech
Winter In My Heart
Love Like the Movies
Paranoia in B-Flat Major
At the Beach
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Murder in the City
Just a Closer Walk With Thee
Please Pardon Yourself
The Fall
Kick Drum Heart
I and Love and You
Live And Die
Go to Sleep

The Perfect Space
Talk on Indolence

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