There are some bands you never tire of. You’ll pay any price, drive to any city, and enjoy each show with the unvarnished enthusiasm of someone seeing them for the first time. That’s how I feel about The Avett Brothers.
The Honda stage drew a crowd from the festival over… they’re the kind of group that transcends category. These days, (if you’ve been to a recent ACL and a long-since-past ACL you probably have an opinion too) there are complaints uttered about ACL turning too commercial, too mainstream, starting to headline and divide listeners into easy and separate groups. Here are the EDM kids, the FOLK adults, the METAL rockers, the SKA potheads, and such. I imagine that’s how the groups of us are labeled at a headquarters somewhere, with who I can only envision Dr. Evil being the one holding the sharpie. I digress. This band, certainly folksy but in the vein of rock, with enough strings to make you second-guess typecasting them, and enough earnest feeling to make you gobble up every word of theirs as if it is indisputable Truth. And it is, its raw truth.
Scott and Seth Avett, everyone knows very well from their swoon-worthy gene pool. PSA: Ladies, Seth is single. But just because the next bandmates aren’t mentioned by name in their band’s moniker doesn’t make them any less crucial to the familiar sound: present on stage were Bob Crawford on double bass, Joe Kwon on cello, Mike Marsh on drums, Tania Elizabeth who tore it up on violin, and Paul Defiglia, keys.
The melodic, bluegrass strumming isn’t the loudest, most expensive set ever produced. There aren’t lights or fireworks, everyone on stage is dressed in flannel and denim instead of ice-cream cone bras, but it is the most entertaining and engaging show I’ve seen yet. They opened with “Colorshow” off their 2006 album Four Thieves Gone from which they played a few other songs. I appreciated this, that they didn’t play down the list of their Top 40 hits, of which there are many, but also some of their early work, before they were The Avett Brothers we know today. Included in their fourteen song set list were three covers, my personal favorite was “Country Blues” by Doc Watson.
Never failing to disappoint, though, the show was ended with a rendition of “I and Love and You” which means something different and personal to each and every one of us but no one more interpretation more important than another. Seth hopped on the keys and Scott plucked his acoustic guitar, and for each chorus he leaned his microphone enthusiastically into the crowd. Sigh. I and Love and You, Avett Brothers. See you next time.