Last Friday night, Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA (just to set the stage). I’m walking down Ballard Ave. and it’s freezing cold (wet goes without saying). The crowd around the entrance indicates a sold out show, and I am silently rejoicing about my early-bird ticket purchase. Yeah! I can walk right through the door, Yeah! I’m over 21, YEAH BABY. AVETT BROTHERS RAH!
I cannot explain my enthusiasm for this band, but I will try. They have this sound that feels like pure abandon, except that they are so in sync with each other that you have to simultaneously appreciate the feel of improv and practice.
There’s a feeling you get about musicians that play together well – expertly; it’s a feeling of intimacy. They could take shout-outs from the audience for a song they’d never played together before, and when they performed it, it would sound like they’d been at it for ten years. You can tell that they know what will be coming out of each other’s mouths or instruments ten seconds before any noise is made; you can tell that they can anticipate everything as if by pure instinct.
The harmonies are gorgeous, even when they are screamed, shouted, barked, growled, or any other normally abrasive form of utterance. How those guys can get on stage and scream way harder than Kurt ever did and call it country – well, it’s impressive. Ditto for the way the banjo rips like a jealous sibling of the Strat. And an upright bass? Oh and did I mention the one-man-band style percussion getup?
Interestingly, an Avett Brothers recording will energize and soothe and do all those great things that you love about great albums, yet it leaves out the sense of sheer awe that you get from watching the band perform. There may not be a way around this, and that’s OK, because the albums are worth having as well. If you ever liked anything remotely country, and I mean the good kind, of course, then go buy their music.
They’ve also got one of the more active tour schedules I’ve seen, which bodes well for both you and their career. And this from “Salvation Song”:
And they may pay us off with fame
Though that is not why we came
And I know well and good
That won’t heal our hearts