I have seen The Avett Brothers, at my best recollection, six or seven times. I have seen them play at a small venue in Park City, I saw them play a not-sold-out rainy show at Gallivan Center, and I have seen them more than once at Red Butte. Last night was my least favorite of all of those shows, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.
I don’t know. Maybe it was the setlist. Maybe it was me. But they seemed less chatty than usual and, even in the front row, I didn’t feel the connection that the band usually shares with their audience—the connection I wanted my 12 year-old-son Charlie, an Avetts super fan, to feel live and in person.
Bursting onto the stage with “Die, Die, Die” the always-energetic band blew through a setlist full of favorites—songs like “Shame,” “D-Bag Rag” (with kazoos, obviously), “Go To Sleep,” “February Seven,” “Murder in the City,” and “Talk on Insolence” were interspersed between songs from their new album True Sadness, like the bass-heavy “Ain’t No Man” and a tale of divorce—and yodeling— in “Divorce Separation Blues.”
Let me be clear: a bad night for The Avett Brothers is still a really good night for music.
These boys (and one girl) really bring it. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett (banjo and guitar, respectively) harmonize like angels and took turns taking the lead all night—who says brothers can’t share?
A large part of The Avett’s success has been their band, which has grown in size in the years I’ve seen them tour. Cellist Joe Kwon—who is more metal as any cellist on the planet—drummer Mike Marsh, Bob Crawford on bass, pianist Paul Defiglia and violinist Tania Elizabeth create the trademark Avett sound—and do so in spite of not even receiving an introduction to the audience by their band’s namesakes. None of them leave anything on the stage. It’s remarkable that they’re able to play with that kinetic energy night after night, really.
It was during the encore that the band really hit their stride, though. Starting out with the poppy and peppy “Kick Drum Heart” bringing brother Seth into the crowd, with members of the audience holding up his guitar cables. Then it was on to a raucous version of Willie Nelson’s “Stay All Night” and they closed the set with “No Hard Feelings.”
Indeed. No hard feelings. I’ll see you next time, Avetts.