The Avett Brothers
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By Lucia Kaminsky
Flannel-clad fans inundated the Pageant in St. Louis on Sept. 24 in anticipation of North Carolina country/folk virtuosos, the Avett Brothers.
Led by crooning brothers Scott and Seth Avett, and joined by bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon, the Avett Brothers have spent the bulk of the last decade as an independent cult gem under the guidance of Ramseur Records founder Dolphus Ramseur. Their 2009 release on Rick Rubin's American Recordings label, (I And Love And You) catapulted them from relative obscurity to boundless popularity, extending their appeal through the rock, folk and country genres, and the sold-out, ravenous crowd proved undeniably that this rustic treasure had been discovered.
Accompanied by touring drummer Jacob Edwards, the quartet performed more than 20 choice songs, beginning with the heart-piercing "November Blue" from their 2002 debut Country Was. Songs like "Salina," "Shame" and "Paranoia In B Flat Major" showcased the vulnerability found on 2007's Emotionalism. These selections prompted synchronized jumping and spontaneous shouting from the band and their admirers alike.
Throughout the set, Scott moved from guitar to banjo to keys with sprinkles of harmonica and kick drum. Equally versatile, Seth jumped from guitar to keyboard, emitting notes somewhere between mid-century country and '60s rock (think Charlie Rich meets the British invasion) in "Slight Figure Of Speech." Songs like "Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise" converted the crowd from mere fans into folk apostles as Scott called them to action, singing, "Decide what to be/And go be it." Kwon added to the beauty of the band's artistry through his expressive serenity as he performed the first few identifiable notes of "Go To Sleep." As the crowd joined in with simultaneous "la la las," the congregation broke into a pseudo-hoedown warmed up by foot-stomper "Tin Man," and continuing with "Pretty Girl From Cedar Lane," "Talk On Indolence" and "Kick Drum Heart." Crawford succeeded in adding an element of animation and depth, which was evident in the wistful lament of "Famous Flower Of Manhattan."
The between-song banter was minimal other than to humbly thank the audience for their support and introduce songs. The brothers are storytellers, and their songs, the campfire fables. Their performance of Roger Miller's "Where Have All The Average People Gone" was a clear example of their ability to entrance the audience, thus affirming that there were definitely no "average people" onstage.
The 23-song set concluded with a performance of the title track off I And Love And You that would bring even the toughest of cowboys to his knees. However, the band returned for an encore featuring the fan favorite, "Murder In The City," "Swept Away," off 2004's Mignonette, and crowd-pleaser "Laundry Room." The show was nowhere lacking in pure talent, energy and raw passion.
"Kick Drum Heart"
"Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise"
"Slight Figure Of Speech"
"When I Drink"
"Paranoia In B Flat Major"
"Famous Flower Of Manhattan"
"Go To Sleep"
"Pretty Girl From Cedar Lane"
"And It Spread"
"Where Have All the Average People Gone"
"Talk On Indolence"
"I And Love And You"
"Murder In The City"
To catch the Avett Brothers in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Relocating from Miami, Lucia Kaminsky joined The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter in 2005 as an intern. Her experience includes positions for Walt Disney Entertainment in São Paulo, and the Memphis In May International Festival. She is currently the Project Coordinator for the Memphis Chapter.)
(Photo information: Scott and Seth Avett perform at the Pageant on Sept. 24 / Photo: The Recording Academy)