Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pretty (damn great) band from North Carolina

The Avett Brothers are an American band (no other description suffices) from Concord, North Carolina.
The Avett Brothers are Scott Avett on banjo, Seth Avett on guitar and Bob Crawford on stand-up bass.
The Avett Brothers have put out a handful of records over the past few years, including their latest, the achingly good Emotionalism.
The Avett Brothers are, in this writer's (Hi! I'm Michael K., from The Parallel Campaign, your new favorite seldom-updated blog!) humble opinion, now putting on some of the most whole-hearted, balls-out shows in the land, and you've only got yourself to blame if they come around and you miss them. Blame yourself you will.

Now, this was supposed to be a show review when I began writing it a few weeks ago, but nevermind that now - let me tell you a little story instead. Minimally maudlin (at least I'll try), and perhaps more interesting.

I went to see the Avetts with a friend who found out half an hour before we left that she was being offered a job back in the big city. That's the big bad city several hundred miles away, back where she was before she came here, a place she went more than a little haywire in when she was younger there. A place she's in no rush to return to. But the job is too good to pass up and she knew she wouldn't; there's little left for her here in University Town but for a few good friends, some bad memories of abortive relationships, and a few comfortable dives. This is precisely the emotional state you want to be in, greased by a few PBRs, when the show kicks off with verses like

The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town
Cause nothing happens here that doesn’t happen there
So when you run make sure you run
To something and not away from
Cause lies don’t need an aeroplane to chase you down

And what a show. What a band. What dimensions, what feeling, what fun can still be wrung out of a bass, an acoustic guitar, a banjo and a kick drum. High and low. The Avetts are about my age; when they sing about things like regret, the shadow of madness, getting a bit older, family (a more poignant song I have not heard in a long time, and you could hear a pin drop in the hall) and love, things we - at least I - haven't even got a sense of till reaching 30, it hits and it hits hard.

If there's an act around right now with more, dare I say it? sincerity in their words, more heart in their performance, I don't know of them.

All that was missing was one of my current faves, the jangling, sweet-as-candy "Pretty Girl From San Diego." The band that manages to slide at least a couple tracks entitled "Pretty Girl from _______" on every album closed instead with "Pretty Girl from Chile." And what a way to close. It's the one song on Emotionalism that abandons, however briefly, acoustic sound for electric, and rather than me explain just how that comes off live, why don't you just watch for yourself?

Afterwards, on a huge high, I saw my friend was quiet, so I asked her what she thought.

"You didn't see me sobbing three times tonight? That's good."

I didn't, but I had a feeling that she had been and that was all right. If I hadn't been singing along with the rest through most of the show, I think I might have been close to it myself.

Maybe when Seth Avett prefaced "Die Die Die" with the words

"This is a song about survival."

Yeah. Those are the best kind, for me.
"Nobody knows what lies behind/the days before we die."
Simple words, but I'm taking them with me. I want to survive, and I want the people I love to survive. Someone I love is having to fight real hard to survive nowadays. Someone she loved deeply stopped surviving just a few days after that show. Nights like that, and music like this, maybe they help us survive and keep it together pretty well.

And they're a hell of a lot of singalong, stompalong fun, too.

The Avett Brothers upcoming tour dates:

Nov 11 2007 8:00P Common Grounds Gainesville, Florida
Nov 15 2007 7:30P Norwalk Concert Hall Norwalk, Connecticut
Nov 16 2007 9:00P Paradise Rock Club Boston, Massachusetts
Nov 17 2007 7:30P Webster Hall New York, New York
Nov 18 2007 7:30P State Theatre Ithaca, New York
Nov 19 2007 8:00 Sellersville Theater Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Nov 20 2007 8:00P The Grand Opera House Wilmington, Delaware

Official website

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