Photos by Ty Hyten
The Scene: The Avett Brothers have permeated every corner of the music market, and the sold out crowd at Red Rocks reflected the nearly universal appeal this band has. I actually have never heard the statement, “I don’t like the Avett Brothers,” and I talk about music quite a bit. During the weeks leading up to this show I couldn’t avoid the Avett Brothers if I tried. Everyone was either boasting about having a ticket, or looking for one. Well, this show lived up to the hype.
I have liked these guys since I first heard them, but never got in to them as much as most of my friends for some reason. I will admit, once these guys started playing, I was just as giddy as the school girls in the crowd…but probably not for the same reasons. Sure, I like the music of the Avett Brothers, but it’s their charisma that really got me. These dudes moved around the stage all night, and put everything they had into the performance. Southern charm, pop-appeal, traditional instruments, sweet has honeysuckle harmonies, and arena rock energy swirled between the rocks, and blew over the nothing but smiles crowd like a full force gale…and we even got “Swept Away” during the encore.
Opener: DeVotchKa. DeVotchKa came out on the stage dressed in all black, and played their orchestral Indie rock sounds to an large an attentive home town crowd. Denver based DeVothcKa has been dramatisizing indie rock for more than a decade, and their emotive intricacies give music lovers a lot to like. The band is made up of a group of multi-instrumentalists, so they are constantly new instruments appearing. As detailed and as their sound was, they also put rock energy into some of the songs. Haunting strings mixed with the cool breeze as DeVotchKa wrapped up their set. They left the stage having dazzled the crowd who were frothing at the mouth in anticipation of what was to come.
The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers have it all. Wide-appeal, good looks, fans to pack whatever house they play, and nothing but open doors in front of them. They have pulled traditional music back into the mainstream with the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and The Decemberists, but they are doing it with the force of an arena rock band.
When brothers Scott and Seth Avett sauntered on to the stage with their bearded southern swagger, the audience jumped to their feet in an eruption of excitement. Well, it wasn’t just the brothers that got the cheers, but the other musicians on the stage as well. The band may be named after the brothers, but it takes each member to make the Avett Brothers experience happen. I wish I could say I hate picking favorites, but I don’t. Joe Kwon’s cello playing made the night for me. The Avett Brothers have simple songs with simple structures, and that is one of the things I love about them, but adding someone with the talents of Kwon to the line-up gives those sweet and simple songs a bit of instrumental fortitude.
The night opened with “Talk On Indolence,” (the last song they played at the Friday night show). Feet stomped as the banjo banged, and the night was off like a tar heel tornado. Long hair flew on the stage like it was Headbangers Ball as the band moved, swayed, jumped, knelt, and did anything but just stand there. This band has a rock background, and they make sure that’s seen. Long hair, beards, banjos, and simplicity ruled the stage, and I hope the more mainstream listeners in the crowd run with what the Avett Brothers image conveys. It is a new dawn for American music, where Americana is moving to the forefront, and music based on traditional roots is becoming popular again. Let’s hope more bands like this can start taking up the airwaves.
The audience sang, danced, and stomped along to some of the lesser known Avett Brothers material as the band played something off of every album (well, I guess their lesser known material if you aren’t a die-hard fan). The people surrounding me in the fifth row knew every word to every song, and watching them sing along on a perfect summer night just overpowered me with gratitude. We are all so lucky to have a place like Red Rocks to convene and celebrate the power of music.
“January Wedding” is possibly my favorite Avett Brothers song, and I got to hear it near the middle of the set. The entire crowd and band sang the song a cappella at one point, and I was in my glory. Yes, I love sweet songs. Another highlight of the night was when two other members of the Avett family joined the band on stage. When Scott and Seth’s sister and father came out to sing the traditional “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” the bands authenticity was solidified. These boys grew up singing in the south as a family, and they keep that in their minds no matter how big the stage or crowd.
The show lived up to the hype, and I got a new found appreciation for this band. Hearing “I And Love And You” and “Laundry Room” live brought me back to when someone excitedly first played the Avett’s for me. This band is taking popular music in the direction I would like to see it go, and I am behind them all the way.
Setlist: Talk On Indolence, Distraction #74, Die Die Die, Wanted Man, Famous Flower Of Manhattan, Kick Drum Heart, Colorshow, Pretty Girl At The Airport, Shame, Denouncing November Blue, Tin Man, Live And Die, Go To Sleep, The Lowering, January Wedding, Perfect Space, Slight Figure Of Speech, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Love Like The Movies, I And Love And You, The Fall, Pretty Girl From Cedar Lane, Laundry Room
Encore: Swept Away, If It’s The Beaches, Head Full Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light show: A-