The chilly autumn night at the Lawn at White River Amphitheatre, opened by a single hum of Joe Kwon’s cello bow, succeed by Scott Avett’s palatable banjo melody that kicked off the night with “Go to Sleep” a tune off of the Avett Brothers 2007 release Emotionalism. The sold out venue instantly became bombilated by the crowds melodic response, charging the night air with a thickness of intensity that is so well known by Avett Brother fans and letting Indianapolis know it was a far cry from a time to sleep.
The brothers Scott and Seth grew up together in a harmonic family in Concord, North Carolina. They started touring together in the 1990s after deciding to combine their two individual bands as one and adding stand-up bass player Bob Crawford. Joe Kwon on cello and Jacob Edwards on drums were added as the Avett Brothers careers progressed through the years to one of the most sought after and top billed acts of their genre. With a sound mixed of bluegrass, country punk, pop the Brothers have won their way to their fans hearts with the raw energy that is completely sublime.
Seth Avett with acoustic in hand lead the quintet into, “The Fall,” a tune from Four Thieves Gone, The Robbinsville Sessions, the vocal weight of the brothers crashing, harmonizing and intertwining with layers of instruments seemed to take the chill out of the night air as the stage emanated the heat from the band into the audience. The velocity of “Die, Die, Die” had the reminiscent rawness of the Ramones pushing Seth’s tenor above the unrestrained vocals of the audience. Older brother Scott’s baritone kicked off, “Shame” leading into a silky smooth accompaniment with Seth. The audience did not let up its crooning along with the Avett’s, the beautiful haunting melody cascading back and forth creating moments of pure intense raw bliss. It is completely mesmerizing to watch the energy of the artists on stage and the interaction of the audience, their stage performance as powerful as their lyrics and watching the audience match the intensity. “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” found Scott on keys for the first time during the evening, the complex melodic motion flowing and feeding off each artist. The musical plateau did not stop but blasted into another favorite from I and Love and You, “Slight Figure of Speech,” with its rapid succession of lyrics met by Jacob Edwards on drums, the Brothers were unstoppable.
As Scott introduced his brother, Seth, a single spot light fell upon the stage warming it as Seth would warm hearts with a song from Carolina Jubilee, “My Last Song to Jenny,” the audience carrying him through the melody and hanging on every word with as much brevity as the singer. Banjo in tow, Scott reappeared on stage with fill in bass player Paul DeFiglia for an upbeat number off of Emotionalism, “Paranoia in B Flat Major” and segued into “I Would Be Sad” another tune from Emotionalism layering in as much emotion as one could imagine a tune evoking. The quintet reunited for “And It Spread,” the crescendo sforzando of Seth’s vocals weaving and ducking through Joe Kwon’s cello notes. “Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane,” off of their 2004 release Mignonette was a full out powerhouse fusion, the brothers mirroring each other as they jumped and in rhythm with their strings. Scott on lead vocals for “Down With the Shine,” would lead into another tune from Emotionalism, “Will You Return.” The brothers knocked the socks off of the crowd with favorites from I and Love and You, “January Wedding,” “Laundry Room,” and “Kick Drum Heart.” With a pause from I and Love and You the brothers blasted a spectacular “Colorshow” from Four Thieves gone and segued back into I and Love and You’s first single release from the album, “I and Love and You.”
The Avett Brothers left the stage following the last song of the set, returning for an opening encore duet the two brothers with acoustic guitars in hand wandered up to a single mic for “Murder in the City.” Younger Avett Seth stood closely by as Scott would lead the way in a soul expanding number. Seth’s emotional presence, clutching his guitar to his heart and leaning in to sing harmony with his brother reinforced the love between the two. As the rest of the band returned to the stage, they followed up with a Rolling Stones cover, “Angie,” with Seth’s smooth silky vocals on lead and went straight into closing the evening with “Talk on Indolence.”
As the house lights turned on, the Avett Brothers walked along the edge of the stage shaking hands and reaching out to extend their gratitude in the humble way the Avett’s do. The sold out Lawn slowly cleared, the progression back through the gates even more electrified as the entry from the wonderful performance the Avett Brothers had put on.