The word "frenzied" does not show it's face often when discussing musical genres such as folk, bluegrass or country these days, but it is imperative when discussing an Avett Brothers live show.
Download: The Avett Brothers - "Shame"
"It costs nothing to be honest, loyal and true" is the quote that greets you on the Avett Brothers myspace page. It's a sentiment that seems fairly disingenuous, if not slightly naive, upon first encounter. It is not until delving further into the band that you realize this is more of a credo that plays out thru just about everything they do and it is anything but naive.
The Avett Brothers set a tone right from the outset of their shows. Always high energy the Avett's bring a rawness to their performance and it is not long into a show that you realize there is probably little this band does without their heart behind it, if not out in front leading the way. The aptly titled Emotionalism album made the most appearances throughout the set, opening the show with "Die, Die, Die" and proceeding straight into "Shame" without pause. The track "Salina" offered up the evening's most beautiful musical interlude, as Seth Avett switched from guitar to piano to close out the song. One notable difference with this show, from their last few, was the increased presence of Joe Kwon on cello adding a little more depth to the Avett's repertoire. The band managed to incorporate some new material, from their forthcoming ep The Gleam II which is set to be released this July, as well.
There is no room in the Avett Brothers music or show for subtleties or lyrical nuance. Everything comes at the audience unabashed and unabated. There are no veils. Lyrically they focus on the most simplistic of themes from days of youth and first love to moments of regret and redemption. When done right it is these simplistic themes that leave the largest impact and the Avett Brothers manage to do it all right. If the mention of country or bluegrass is enough to keep you from their live show it is to your own detriment, but you would also be missing the point. This live show is like nothing that fits neatly into those genres. Even the Avett Brothers music does little to prepare for the performance. The music alone can't convey the emotional element that appears on stage and makes the songs multi-dimensional, allowing them to breath, sweat and scream. The show can get downright sloppy from time to time as the brothers jump from one instrument to the next and broken strings and stray flying banjo picks are the norm. But, while the package may not always be pretty it will undoubtedly be honest, loyal and true.
Complete photo set from the last Chicago show (I didn't get a chance to post this set last time but the pics are a bit better.)