An evening with The Avett Brothers and Lake Street Dive

[Photo courtesy of The Avett Brothers via Daily Beast]

After every concert, the Avett Brothers throw their setlist into the crowd, sometimes adding signatures or guitar picks. Every show, songs are added and others are taken away. This ongoing tradition says something about the band; that each night is a unique gift to that particular audience. 

I was unsure of what to expect at my concert and hoped to hear my favorites, but was also excited to dive deeper into the band’s vast repertoire of music and discover gems I had never heard.

I was equally excited about the opening act, Lake Street Dive. The group’s polished sound, a mix of soul, R&B and rock-and-roll shined through in songs like, “Neighbor Song,” their acoustic cover of Sly and The Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” and rocking guitar-blues melody “Call of Your Dogs.” If you’re unfamiliar with this Boston-based band, check out their 2018 album Free Yourself Up which has garnered critical acclaim. Their lead single, “Good Kisser” was in the top five in Americana Radio for over a month.

When the Avett Brothers took the stage, they didn’t go near the microphones. The members strapped on their instruments and began playing “The D Bag Rag,” an entirely instrumental song from their first studio album A Carolina Jubilee. Starting the concert with no interaction with the crowd was a bold move. But it worked. The all-out jam session between vocalists Scott and Seth Avett on guitar and banjo, Bob Crawford on upright bass, and cellist, Joe Kwon showed passion for their bluegrass roots.

As soon as the song ended, Seth Avett welcomed the crowd before jumping into “Trouble Letting Go.”

The magic is there for us all to feel / Naming it isn’t what makes it real / Rushing around for us all to know / Noticing isn’t what makes it so”

From there, the night glided by as the group led us through their diverse catalog – the catchy juxtaposition of “High Steppin’,” romantic ballad “February Seven,” rock-anthem “Ain’t No Man,” and soulful “No Hard Feelings.” Every song was a walk through the band’s history of traditional bluegrass-folk and rock-alternative explosions. 

In the middle of the set, the touring band left the stage, leaving the three original members – the brothers and Crawford. They sang a subdued version of “I Wish I Was” from their 2016 album True Sadness, and then played Scott’s “Untitled Four.”

“‘Cause I’m happy being me the most / When I let what makes me happy go / And I finally learn what I need to know / I am happier with nothing”

These lyrics captured the theme of the night for me: life is raw, and while your soul is always exploring avenues of happiness, true joy is found when you drop the search.

Towards the end of the set, The Avett Brothers played a new song, “Who Will I Hold.” This song will be featured on Closer Than Together, the band’s new album coming out Oct. 4. The song was fresh and vibrant, with their characteristic sincere lyrics creating that familiar Avett sound, while unfolding a new chapter in the life of the band.

The Avett Brothers are well crafted after touring for almost two decades. While they are seasoned musicians, they haven’t abandoned their unique presence and curiosity in music. Watching them on stage is a truly genuine experience, unlike any other artist. I left with the impression these two guys don’t just want to make music but need to.  

This is a band whose songs rejuvenate listeners and demand a live performance. It is worth every minute of your time and dollar spent.  

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