Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 25, 2009: The Avett Brothers

Dear Myrtle Beach,



Showed up at the show after the Avetts had taken the stage, due to the maddening trifecta of traffic, tourists and terrible drivers Myrtle Beach so generously offers. So by the time we arrived at the sold-out House of Blues, the Avetts were already at least one song in. Almost immediately thereafter, they started into "Shame" from Emotionalism, which almost seemed directed toward us late-comers. The floor absolutely packed, we made our way upstairs to wrap-around balcony and searched for a clean view of the boys from upper Carolina. After nomadically wandering the premises for a few songs, we lucked out when a couple made an early departure from their railing-spot, which were glad to keep warm til they came back (they never did.)

So the show! As expected, the Avetts had this crowd absolutely frenzied. Don't ever tell me you need pounding drums and electric guitar to breed energy. These guys had a thousand people (estimating here) foaming from a Beatles-esque mania, howling through every song (even the slow ones, and it worked.) Purists might argue the Avetts are best suited for small rock clubs, and I would have been inclined to agree before last night's show. They expertly expanded the reach of their songs, bolstering their relentless strums and screeches with well-placed augmentations and full-band syncopations gave the show more of an organized-chaos feel than a usual Avetts set.

Song of the night for me was "Paranoia in B-Flat Major", although most of the Emotionalism stuff has aged nicely. New tunes were promising, including the title track from the forthcoming I and Love and You. There was a distinct lack of Four Thieves Gone material, although they very well might have opened with "Talk on Indolence". It was a joy to watch the band, as always. Older brother Scott Avett tore at his banjo, lept up on his bass drum headbanged at a whiplashy pace. The lankier Seth gallopped or bounced in place as a strummed and yelped, and occassionally manned the digital piano that sat stage left. The stage was bright and colorful, a marked difference from the last time I saw them, when both brothers wore black and the large Emotionalism backdrop only complemented them. But last night the stage was vivacious, as was the band of course, and it spread through the crowd like swine flu.

It was a nice experience, if only lacking the enjoyable build-up that comes with anticipating the band taking the stage. No, we sat in the hell-hole of Myrtle Beach while, surely, the capacity crowd chanted "Avetts! Avetts!" Rest assured, I will be there plenty early when I see them in Charleston come September. I'll come back with a more comprehensive report at that point.

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