Home > Uncategorized > The Avett Brothers concert

The Avett Brothers concert

Saturday night, we were the parents from hell. I verbally badgered Dorothy into stuffing scrambled gobs eggs down so she could hurry up and go to bed (boy did I feel guilty when she barfed early the next morning, even though it was just a flu bug). At the same time, I tried to bathe each of our twin daughters in a dash. No soap, no careful lotion-rubbing: get in, get out, get swaddled.

But please understand. Janelle and I go out on special dates as often as the Blazers keep their players healthy. And we had a 7:15 rendezvous with destiny (or 5 Guys Burgers, whatever).

The burger joint, of course, was just the pit stop before the main event: an Avett Brothers concert at South Bend’s Morris Theater.

If you think they look good now, go back to when they had their beards.

The Avett Brothers is a folk rock trio from North Carolina, comprising solely of a bass, banjo, and guitar (with the occasional piano, drums, and–for this concert–cello). Their sound spans from boot-stompin’ barn burners to soulful ballads (sometimes in the same song), but it mainly draws on a Southern rock vibe, combining alternative country with a dash of indie folk. Their most recent album, I and Love and You, is by far their most polished work that is more broadly appealing than some of their more fitful–if still equally brilliant–work. They wear this move towards the mainstream on their faces: their once notorious beards–ranging, wild, nigh prophetic–have been replaced with smooth-shaven chops that are calculated for maximum swooning.

Where the Avett Brothers are most distinctive, in my opinion, is their lyrics. Rarely do you find artists sing so sincerely about roots, heritage, morals, doubts, and just plain ol’ trying to do what’s right–all while avoiding the heavy-handed sentimentalism that can make country music or Christian rock so insufferable. In place of didacticism is unswerving authenticity. Trying to manage this moral tone without self-righteousness, without condescension, and without irony is no easy task, and they certainly aren’t flawless. But which other bands out there can sing such lyrics without a knowing wink or too much sap: “I want to have pride / Like my mother has / But not like the kind in the Bible that makes you bad” or “If I get murdered in the city / Don’t go revengin’ my name / One person dead from such is plenty / No need to get locked away”?

But mainly, they just play music real good. I found out after the concert that we were their 3rd show in 3 nights, but it never showed. The banjoist jams around the stage like a rock star, and they pounded through their high-octane numbers, like “Talk on Indolence” and “Kick Drum Heart” without missing a beat or slowing down. Surprisingly, they also put aside most of their newest work and dug into some of their older albums for the meat of their set. This came with no complaints from me, but I wish they had played their best song of I and Love and You, “Ten Thousand Words.”

In short, the concert was phenomenal. We had a great time with the Masons, who were kind enough to locate the tickets. If they come through your town, do make sure you’re there. And grab their latest album from Amazon MP3 downloads for just $5–stellar, stellar, deal.

Here’s an artsy music video for “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise:”

And here’s them playing their closing song, “Salvation Song:”

Lastly, “Murder in the City:”

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    While I enjoy I and Love and You, I’ve been listening to Emotionalism since the concert and I LOVE it! You hit it on the head about the purity and sincerity of their lyrics. “I Would Be Sad” especially illustrates that. It was a good concert, one of those that makes me wish I knew more of the band before I went. We saw the Punch Brothers at the Barn in St. Pat’s Park a few years ago here and I felt the exact same way. I enjoyed it, then realized how much I loved the music afterwards and wished I’d discovered it before I saw them live so I could appreciate it more.

    • February 16, 2011 at 9:15 am

      I know what you mean about wishing you had listened to them more to the concert. I agree.

      Amazon.com used to have a great deal on “Four Thieves Gone” and “The Gleam,” but it looks like they’re back to full price. Still, “FTG” is a great, messy album, with some “meh” tracks followed by some of the band’s best work.

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