It’s really not a secret anymore, The Avett Brothers are kind of a big deal these days. Not even a year ago brothers Scott and Seth Avett along with bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon brought their folk act to the Akron Civic theater to a decent sized crowd.
That show was just months before the release of the Rick Rubin produced I and Love and You, an album that would change their status as a band forever putting them in the spotlight they so deserve.
Last Saturday night the North Carolinian foursome returned to Ohio and played to a sold out crowd at the House Of Blues in Cleveland. With tickets being sold out months prior, it was pretty apparent that this was a show many folk were looking forward to be it new fans or long time followers. Looking around the venue as I arrived it was clear that the attendees of the night were a fine mix old and young. There were frat boys pounding Miller Lite’s as well as a dread-locked couple hanging back against a wall and even a couple punk rockers loitering by the bar. It would almost seem as if the night was all about bringing people together at the expense of music.
Folk act The Low Anthem from Providence, Rhode Island had the pleasure of being the opening act. Starting off with a couple slow folk songs off their latest release Oh My God Charlie Darwin it was clear that most of the crowd was not interested in them at all. Lead singer Ben Knox Miller did not let that bother him one bit though and continued playing songs to the packed house along with Jeff Prystowsky primarily on the stand-up bass. Joining them as well was Jocie Adams who took care of most of the percussion duties, and Mat Davidson. The band all played multiple instruments throughout their set showcasing their talent.
Just about half way into the set they switched gears and started rocking out heavily with Miller and Adams belting out vocals and Prystowsky beating the crap out of his stand up bass ever so passionately. Adams really caused some jaws to drop when she sang in full force as she was just a small framed thing. Many of the crowd soon quieted down and gave them the respect they deserved and by the set’s end the whole place was cheering for them.
It was clear that The Avett Brothers have reached that “rock star” level once the curtains were drawn introducing the Avett brothers, Bob Crawford, Joe Kwon, and a new touring drummer Jacob Edwards (of Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers) to the crowd that night. The entire place cheered and sang along as they opened up with the ever appropriate “Salina”. When the lyrics “Cleveland, I ain’t never felt nothing so strong” were recited the entire crowd went crazy and that would not be the last time that happened. In fact the boys kept the momentum going following the opening song by playing “Slight Figure of Speech”.
Continuing for the hour and a half set the band played a few songs off their latest release but also dug deep into their catalog as well as even hammered out “Where Have All The Average People Gone”, a Roger Miller cover. Not surprisingly the touring drummer entered and exited the stage when the time came for Scott Avett to get behind the drums. It was also nice to see a very energetic Joe Kwon stay on the stage for the entire show. The last time I had the please of seeing the Avett’s the celloist walked on and off the stage throughout the night but this time he stood his ground and played his heart out.
There was no “Kick Drum Heart” or “I and Love and You” played during their as many might have wanted to hear but “January Wedding” as well as “And It Spread” was suffice to all as everyone sang along when each was played. I myself was most thrilled to hear “Murder In The City” as I just had listened to the song the other day on my record player. Still fresh in my mind I sang along with everyone around me just enjoying every second of it.
“Go To Sleep” was perhaps one of my favorite tracks to hear during the evening. Joe Kwon took his cello and played the beginning of the song and in no time the entire crowd decided to help by screaming “La La, La La La La” throughout as the rest of the band sang and played the boot stomping jam. Sure the song is not about the happiest of times but the energy exhumed out of the song from all was just incredible. As the song came to an end the boys left the stage to an over-adoring crowd.
All I could think of in my head was “they get it”. When I say “they” I meant the crowd, and “it” of course was the music. Sure the place was sold out, packed, and full of people who had one too many but they all were there for a good time with good people thanks to good music. Better yet I was overly pleased with the set list of the night as the Avett’s took and played songs from a whole slew of their albums and tried not to just focus on the new stuff and most of the fans around me sang along to every single song.
As the crowd continued to sing “La La, La La La La” in a rather collected harmony the boys returned to the stage and started their encore with a slowed down version of “Traveling Song”. Ending the night with “If It’s The Beaches” off of The Gleam, the crowd was not ready to let the Avett Brothers call it a night but sadly they exited the stage and the lights were turned back on. As those lights became brighter I could start to see more people’s faces with smiles reaching ear to ear. It was proof of how amazing the night was and just how great of a time was had in the venue on a Saturday night in Cleveland.
Slight Figure Of Speech
Where Have All The Average People Gone? (Roger Miller Cover)
Please Pardon Yourself
Murder In The City
Tear Down The House
At The Beach
And It spread
Head Full Of Doubt
I Would Be Sad
Famous Flower of Manhattan
Go To sleep
If It’s The Beaches