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The Avett Brothers @ The Riverside Theater

Nov. 18, 2011

Nov. 21, 2011
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Call it a family affair when The Avett Brothers come to town, but it's more of an extended family reunion of sorts, given the nonstop vibe of love and affection between the band and their adoring capacity audience.

In the first of two shows this past weekend at the Riverside Theater, brothers Seth and Scott Avett showed once again why the heart of country, folk, punk, bluegrass, Americana—and just about every other genre you can conjure—lives on in its own 21st century mash-up. The same can be said for instrumentation: Scott plays a fierce banjo, Seth is all over his guitar, and these bros from North Carolina mixed it up in Friday's electrifying 95-minute performance.

Accompanied by bass, drums and cello (and what a striking sound cellist Joe Kwon brings to the band), the Avetts played and thrashed about like a starter punk band, yet brought grace and elegance to the music, particularly with ballads like the plaintive "January Wedding" juxtaposed with the dark undertones of "Murder in the City," with brother Scott strumming a simple melody on guitar.

The boys in this band know how to kick it up. High-energy numbers like opener "Laundry Room" had the crowd on its feet as if it were the final encore. "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" and "Down With the Shine" were just a few of the musical gems that shone throughout the stellar evening, keeping the sing-along fans on their feet. The crowd knew every word to every song.

At times, The Avett Brothers evoke the best of a musical past they are too young to even recall (Scott is 35, Seth is 31), such as the overtones of "original Americana group" The Band in the glorious anthemic call (and audience response) of "I and Love and You." There was also the grunge factor to consider, and it displayed itself prominently—and loudly—in the punkish frenzy of "Kick Drum Heart," recalling the best of The Ramones, minus the dark sunglasses and black leather accoutrements. Hardcore fans—make that the entire audience—got a once and future surprise at show's end. The brothers performed the yet-to-be-recorded "The Once and Future Carpenter," evoking a sound rich with the tradition of American song coupled with the future promise, and legacy, of more great music to follow.


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