The Avett Brothers – Inviting Fans to be a Part of the Family
On Thursday night, two brothers from North Carolina, who grew up on folk, bluegrass and Americana, took Houston by storm with their two-hour, solo performance at Revention Music Center. Seth and Scott Avett – the “Avett Brothers” – grew up loving music and turned passion into project by digging in their heels to write gut-wrenchingly truthful songs about loving, losing, and living. However, this musical pursuit was not always as delicate and folk-inspired as it now appears. The origin of the Avett Brothers resonates much closer with punk-rock and metal, seemingly an attempt to break free of their musical roots back home. Amidst tireless efforts to pursue a career in those heavy-handed genres, Scott and Seth realized their calling lied with inspiration from family, friends, and the sounds of home. Stripping back the loudness and distortion of guitars heard in the earlier years, the group ultimately migrated to an emphasis on vocal harmonies and carefully crafted guitar riffs seen vividly in Thursday night’s performance.
The evening began with a simple stirring of the audience talking about whether an opener would be performing before The Avett Brothers took the stage. The show was supposed to “start” at 8:00pm but no supporting band had been listed on any sites. Contrary to the mainstream, The Avett Brothers broke the common mold of performances, cutting the position of an opening band, and starting the show early in the evening in order to play longer – two hours to be exact. The show ultimately started around 8:30pm with performances of “True Sadness,” “Satan Pulls the Strings,” and “Morning Song.” Though Seth and Scott Avett understood the need of a larger band to create more intricate melodies and create a larger sound, the most incredible moments of the night were the stripped versions of several songs in which, either Seth or Scott commanded the stage sans-band.
In the middle of the evening, Seth, Scott, and bass player Bob Crawford, sat delicately under a spotlight all huddled around a single microphone. Rarely do larger performances strip down to an “acoustic” (as-acoustic as one can be in order allow a large venue to hear the song) presentation halfway through the set. Understanding the intimate connections fans feel not only with the music but with the brothers, the acoustic performance of “I Wish I Was” could not have come at a better time. Fans grew quieter and drew closer and sang softly along with the trio at center stage.
Eventually, the whole band re-entered the venue, and played through songs like “Who Will Hold Me When You’re Gone” and “Kick Drum Heart.” The night ultimately closed with fan-favorite, “I and Love and You.” This was not the end, however. Unbeknownst to fans, the group still had four more songs left to play for the encore. Re-entering after what seemed like an eternity to the audience, the group went straight into a cover of “Black Mountain Rag” in which case they truly showcased their folk and bluegrass roots. The final three songs of the evening were “Laundry Room,” “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” and crowd pleaser “No Hard Feelings.” Not many bands can take a sold-out venue and turn into what feels like an intimate bar show reminiscent of late night, deep talks about life with friends and loved ones. Yet, the Avett Brothers were able to do just that.
Photography by Marshall Heins II
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