August 20, 2008

The Avett Brothers? Yeah, SO worth the drive

I’ve never seen a show like the Avett Brothers before.

Last night eight of us made the three-hour drive up to the mountain town of Steamboat Springs to see these North Carolina siblings perform. I came at the behest of a friend who saw them once, said they changed his life, and proceeded to see them ten times on one tour. Last night was his eleventh show, and the fans there all seemed to possess similar levels of devotion. Although the music finds its roots in a backwoods-bluegrass kind of heritage, the show felt more like a punk rock performance in the spirit and the energy, the yell-out-loud immediacy. More than anything, I stood there happily perplexed for the first several songs as my neurons fired and tried to categorize a performance that defied it. This is their performance of Paranoia in Bb Major:

Scott and Seth Avett look like they stumbled in from the same cabin that Ray LaMontagne lived in out in southwestern Maine, and they seemed right at home in the small auditorium all open along the walls to the green hills covered in wildflowers. Their voices combine flawlessly, as only siblings can, whether they are shouting out one of their foot-stomping numbers or weaving a gorgeous dirge backed by a string duo. As they stand, Seth plays the hi-hat with one foot, and Scott has a kick drum – and the urgency pounds out while they strum as hard as they can.

I kept warning my friends that if they played “If It’s The Beaches” I just might cry and wouldn’t be able to help it (and who wants to cry on their birthday, really). That song slays me for so many reasons, both for they way it echoes some personal disappointments in my life, but also the immensely beautiful sadness and love that it captures in the pure lyrics. After a set that completely satisfied, they came out for the final song of the encore and launched into “If It’s The Beaches.” Dammit, I found those big fat tears slipping out unallowed from my eyes, but don’t tell anyone. But you know, even though I was crying (just a little!) on my birthday, it was a beautiful moment on an amazingly beautiful night and I didn’t mind.

The Avetts are back in Colorado for Monolith in a few weeks, and then they have dozens of other shows coming up. Seriously. You must go. An incredible, visceral, unclassifiable performance.

Gimmeakiss – The Avett Brothers
St. Joseph’s – The Avett Brothers
Paranoia in Bb Major – The Avett Brothers


  • Truly one of the greatest live bands ever. First caught them at Coachella two years back. I went to check them out for a few tunes then hustle over to another stage. Midway through the first song I knew i’d be sticking around the whole set. I’ve seen them 7 times since and they’re always great. The only other band with that much energy and passion is the Old 97′s.

    WhiskeyTango — August 21, 2008 @ 1:01 am

  • Happy Birthday Heather!

    Anonymous — August 21, 2008 @ 3:13 am

  • Sounds like the perfect way to spend your birthday.

    I’d also like to thank you for introducing me to this band, who have slowly begun to seep into my soul snce falling for “If It’s The Beaches”. It’s hard to find their stuff over here, but payday is looming…

    last year's girl — August 21, 2008 @ 4:41 am

  • I remember seeing them play many years ago in Greenville, NC while I was in college. They were an awesome band then…

    Patrick — August 21, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  • You were also the one who turned ME on to them with 'If It's The Beaches'. I *love* them now. Thanks for this post and Happy Birthday & best wishes, as well.

    Take care.

    wakeboarder69 — August 21, 2008 @ 10:30 am

  • I am so glad you posted this. I recently heard an mp3 of a music blog (this one?), went out and bought the Gleam II, and have been mesmerized since. I was considering buying tickets for a show in Bloomington, IN, in November, but was holding off… however, now it looks like I’ll be getting tickets soon.

    Meta4one — August 21, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  • Happy Birthday! This is one of my FAVORITE blogs to keep up with – thank you for not only putting in the time it takes to review new music and upload those mp3s, but for consistently putting such moving, beautiful music into words that actually do it justice.

    david — August 21, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

  • Avett Brothers shows are in a class all their own. It’s truly an emotional experience. What a great way to spend a birthday!

    Beaze — August 21, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

  • Same goes here, Heather… Happy Birthday and thanks for introducing me to the Avett Brothers!

    I have listened to “If it’s The Beaches” and “Murder in the City” so many times now, I can’t remember life before I heard them…

    Bill — August 21, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

  • Gotta say … saw them in Phoenix. Didn’t really get it, the whole cult-ish following. I dunno, maybe I’m just being a hater. I’m sure I’m the only one.

    I was more captivated by the manic followers than the band, really.

    Kevin — August 22, 2008 @ 3:50 am

  • off topic: could you, please, reupload these songs?

    Anonymous — August 22, 2008 @ 5:55 am

  • Happy birthday!!!
    Thank you for introducing me to the Avett brothers – If Its Beaches got me interested, and I have been listening to them for a couple of hours now – loving it. (there is something a little reminiscent of the Beatles in some of their music…

    Anne — August 22, 2008 @ 5:56 am

  • happy birthday, Heather!!!! that is such a great song, it would make me crytoo!

    their presence at Monolith was definitely what tipped the scales for me to buy a ticket. can’t wait!

    carolyn — August 22, 2008 @ 6:29 am

  • Feliz cumpleanos! But where was Mr. Bob Crawford?

    Slave Trader — August 22, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  • You got me hooked!

    Anonymous — September 25, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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