Friday, April 8, 2016

The Avett Brothers at Madison Square Garden

Scott Avett & Seth Avett
Scott Avett was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and his brother Seth Avett was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were raised in a small hobby farm in Concord, North Carolina, where Scott wanted to be a musician but Seth wanted to be an astronaut. They studied piano, guitar, and banjo, and discovered pop, rock, and Americana music. Although they played music together since childhood, the brothers began their partnership in the late 1990s with the merger of Seth's high school rock band, Margo, and Scott's college group, Nemo. After releasing three albums as Nemo, the Avetts started experimenting with acoustic music with some friends at night. Nemo split, and Scott and Seth continued to write acoustic music together. Now based in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, the folk-rock band known as the Avett Brothers presently consists of Scott Avett on vocals and banjo, Seth on vocals and guitar, bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon. Drummer Mike Marsh, violinist Tania Elizabeth and keyboardist Paul Defiglia are touring members of the band. The Avett Brothers' ninth studio album, True Sadness, will be released on June 24, 2016.

Headlining Madison Square Garden tonight was the achievement of a personal goal for the Avett Brothers. "It’s an honor to be on this stage. It’s an honor to be in front of you all tonight," Scott Avett told the audience. "It’s a dream come true. Thank you, thank you, thank you." The Avett Brothers performed 21 songs within a one hour and 45 minute set. The set list included songs from past albums and live EPs, plus three new songs from the forthcoming album, two Merle Haggard covers ("Mama Tried" and "My Favorite Memory"), and a Doc Watson cover ("Country Blues"). The set opened with Marsh’s steady kick drum and an arena of hand claps, as the Avett Brothers launched into the fast-rapping opening to the lively "Talk on Indolence" from 2006’s Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions. Although rooted in Americana, the band easily could have been categorized as either country or rock, performing an expansive set that effectively blended bluegrass, honky tonk, folk, pop, rock and roll, and indie rock. The spotlights followed the energetic musicians, who playfully made great use of the large stage. Mid-set, the brothers played stripped down versions of a few songs without the entire band on a runway that extended deep into the general admission floor area. Opening act Brandi Carlile joined the brothers on the apron for a sweet and gentle harmony-rich rendition of "Murder in the City." To add spectacle to the set, Seth Avett at one point strolled into the audience's standing area playing his electric guitar. The high-octane evening ended with a two-song encore of "Laundry Room" and "I And Love And You." With surprises every few minutes and vibrant flight energizing the set, the Avett Brothers provided an exceptional showcase.

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