October 15, 2011
The Palladium Ballroom
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Christy Stout
Photos by Scott Witty
The Avett Brothers
I was first introduced to the Avett Brothers in 2005 by my husband, John. Over our many years of marriage, he had developed quite an eclectic taste in music. The variety of music he enjoyed was so diverse, I even went as far as to accuse him of having an affair with someone who shared the same musical interests. He wrote the comment off as being "crazy" and tried to explain that his musical appetite had grown beyond the realm typically heard on the radio. To prove his point, he purchased a CD of his favorite band at the time - a folk rock group called the Avett Brothers. The disc, called Mignonette, began my eternal romance with Scott, Seth, Jacob, Joe and Bob.
This past year alone, I've seen these North Carolina musicians eleven times. I was especially excited when I found out the group had scheduled to two shows in Dallas. For me, they've become a great excuse for my husband and I to travel together travel and see the country. Though we'd been to the Lone Star state once to see a Cowboy game in the new stadium, this trip was completely different in scope and feeling. We were going on the road to see the Avett Brothers. For many people we encounter in our travels, it's a curious excuse to get out of the house. A lot of people have never heard of, or seen, this group. When asked to describe the music, honestly, it's even more difficult to compare it to anything heard on the radio today, or yesterday. Of course, I'm rather stunned to get these questions, but the subject brings up interesting conversations, and hopefully I end up converting the uninformed. Honestly, in order to understand what seems like an obsession, all you need to do is watch this band perform live one time.
Actions, as they say, speak louder than words. With the Avett Brothers, those actions come in the form of musical instruments - the cello, stand-up bass, banjo, guitar and drums to be exact. Now I'm a sucker for a good concert, and my musical palate has grown in taste over the years, though maybe not as broad as my husband. That said, there's still something about the musical world Scott and Seth Avett have created that captures a part of your soul. There are a lot of acts in the world today that bring intensity and fire to their music when they initially hit the scene. The problem most those bands face is this. The flames of creativity that made those groups hot commodities soon grow cold. With the Avett's, you don't have to worry about growing weary of the music or bored with the band. They are sort of a melodic orgasm you never get tired of experiencing.
This band is loved by all age groups. My 13 year-old has even gotten caught up in my favorite obsession and learned to play a few of their songs on her guitar. However, this boot scootin' excursion to Texas was just for me and mine. After all, he did turn me on, and tune me in, to ‘his' favorite band. Even John's singing voice is getting better the more he ‘practices' at the many shows we attend. The weekend performances we were attending were held at the Palladium, which we found out was once a part of the old Mickey Gilley entertainment complex that was built in south Dallas several years ago.
The Palladium reminded me somewhat of the House of Blues at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where we saw the Avett's do their thing three nights in a row last summer. As the lights went down, my heart beat with anticipation waiting for the band to take the stage. You could cut the energy in this packed room with a knife. The crowd went wild as the band walked out. As I yelled out my ritualistic ‘yee haw' upon seeing them, I could swear Seth heard my cry of joy. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part. I would like to think that after uttering my familiar yelp in concert at various venues around the country, this cry has become a familiar sound the group has grown used to begin jamming to "Talk on Indolence". People around me began jumping around like pogo sticks. Even the ‘Tooter Shot' waitresses got into the act. Why, I was even surprised to spot Dallas Maverick basketball star Dirk Nowitzki smiling and nodding his head at the side of the stage.
Like I alluded to earlier, I'm somewhat of an Avett Brothers junkie. They're like a euphoric drug you take that cries out for a fix whenever, and wherever, the opportunity exists. It doesn't matter which city your lucky to catch their act in, the results are always the same. My husband reminds me often that music has many mistresses. When it comes Scott, Seth and the rest of the crew, I have no problem announcing "I'm their's, and that's it...forever." It's an affair of the heart, what can I say.
The show started off with "And It Spread", which I feel is a great ‘first impression' song for those who have never seen this group before. It's upbeat, catchy and quickly puts the crowd in a sing-a-long mode. I carefully checked the stage to make sure the group was all there, and sure enough, Bob Crawford, the stand-up bassist, is absent yet again. I always look forward to Bob getting in tune with Joe Kwon (cellist) and thumping his bass like the Energizer Bunny. I had just seen the Avett's the week before at a theater in Sevierville, TN and found out the musician was absent from the band due to a family medical issue at home. Sadly, it was reported his two-year old daughter had a brain tumor. She had undergone an operation that required his immediate attention. Paul Defiglia filled in and did an exceptional job.
I have not seen an Americana band with a cellist included in the group. Then again, I'm relatively new to this kind of music. Joe Kwon brings certain elegance to the instrument that resonates beautifully within the context of the songs. His solo offerings during a show are a thing of beauty as well. "Go To Sleep" can get a crowd going with its seductive, trance like "La La" mantra. When Joe's cello playing is accompanied by Seth's piano during the song "Salina", the music seduces the crowd every single time. You literally get lost in your own dreamy world listening to these two musicians play off one another.
This band was created several years ago when the actual Avett brothers, Scott and Seth, merged their respective bands together to form the present group. Scott, the oldest, has boyish good looks and impressive musical talent. His voice is a perfect compliment to his equally talented younger sibling's tranquil, intoxicating vocals. Both take turns showing off their musical chops on the banjo, guitar, piano, and to get your heart really thumping, the occasional kick-drum. Seth's musical chops really come through in songs like "Murder in the City" and "January Wedding." Scott, on the other hand, has an emotional yet angelic voice with raw character that really sparkles when he sings "I & Love & You". It's quite difficult to choose which is the better singer because the balance of bitter and sweet they bring to a song creates just the right ambiance the music needs to really take off.
I was pleasantly surprised when the group broke out into Merle Haggard's, "Won't Give Up My Train". My musical half loves to sing this song after a few beers, but doesn't do the tune near the justice as a roomful of Texans. Our new Texas friends certainly gave the band a run for their money as they sang along with gusto. Not only was this a great song, but a wonderful moment for the crowd.
My personal favorite of the band's 21-song set list is "Laundry Room". Usually the last song of the night, I've sang, danced, laughed, and practically cried watching this song performed over the years. Everyone in the crowd tonight was singing, toasting and snapping shots with there cell phones until the last musical chorus broke out. For one brief moment you are mesmerized by the beat. Everyone is bouncing and can't stop stomping. As the boys bring the song to a dazzling climax, all the whooping and hollering can be heard outside the venue into the street.
Just when my mind was searching for lyrics, and my body was craving for more music to dance to, the stage went dark again for the encores. For some reason, this stage of the show is always tinged with a bit of sadness when I hear Scott's familiar drawl tell the crowd "thanks for coming y'all!" Then it hits home for me that it will be awhile before I see the band perform again. Seth walks up to his mic and starts picking at the six-string intro to the beautiful "Ballad of Love and Hate". This is one of the band's most emotionally charged songs, and Seth does a wonderful job narrating this tale of love and hate. You almost feel like you're alone with him in this song as he softly sings "You're mine, and that's it...forever!" As the crowd roars with approval, the brother's quickly change the pace and begin jamming to "Talk on Indolence". People around me began jumping around like pogo sticks. Even the ‘Tooter Shot' waitresses got into the act. Why, I was even surprised to spot Dallas Maverick basketball star Dirk Nowitzki smiling and nodding his head at the side of the stage.
Like I alluded to earlier, I'm somewhat of an Avett Brothers junkie. They're like a euphoric drug you take that cries out for a fix whenever, and wherever, the opportunity exists. It doesn't matter which city your lucky to catch their act in, the results are always the same. My husband reminds me often that music has many mistresses. When it comes Scott, Seth and the rest of the crew, I have no problem announcing "I'm their's, and that's it...forever." It's an affair of the heart, what can I say. Set List
And It Spread
Go To Sleep
Will You Return
Living of Love
All My Mistakes
At the Beach
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Denouncing November Blue (Uneasy Writer)
Kick Drum Heart
Never Been Alive
Murder In The City
When I Drink
Paranoia in B Flat Major
I Won't Give Up My Train (Merle Haggard's cover)
I & Love & You
Slight Figure of Speech (with David Mayfield)
Ballad of Love & Hate
Talk On Indolence
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