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 â€“ 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.