The Avett Brothers - 09.15.07 - Greensboro, NC

Band delivers the goods in their home state for over 2000 fans. Anticipation was high for this homecoming show of sorts for the North Carolina based band, The Avett Brothers. Touring heavily since the May release of their album “Emotionalism,” the musically talented Scott and Seth Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon had several surprises up their sleeves for the Greensboro crowd.
"An Evening with The Avett Brothers"
- By Jennifer Harp

Hearing about an "Avett Brothers Fan Photography" show at The Green Bean, a local coffeehouse, owned by Pete Schroth in downtown Greensboro, I decided to make that my first stop for a pre-Avett show get together. I am glad I did. Not only did I have a wonderful time meeting and talking with several members of the Avett Community Message board, on the band's website,, but we also got a little taste of some "Avett tunes". These were played by several fans with their own instruments. Surrounded by the wall of photographs taken by fans over the past many years, folks listened to the music, sang along and got to know one another. The sense of community and family that the Avett Brothers sing about so passionately was certainly palpable here.

Shy of being a complete sell-out, this 2300 person capacity venue, the War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro, NC, proved to be a great place to see The Avetts do what they do best; sing and play the music they write and love. The host came out and informed the audience that "this would be a more serious show and there are plenty of surprises in store." I became even more enthralled when I noticed that there was a piano on stage.

The place filled up close to 8 pm and the band arrived on stage at 8:30 to a standing ovation from the audience. They began the evening singing, "Weight of Lies" from "Emotionalism", which certainly got the audience into the spirit of the evening, with much dancing and singing along.

Going from that to "Shame", also from "Emotionalism", and then to "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa", from their "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Series" album, everyone seemed to be singing along. At the end of that tune, Scott and Bob left Seth alone on the stage with his guitar. "Ballad of Love and Hate", from "Emotionalism", was beautifully sung. Seth Avett's voice seemed to resonate throughout the auditorium, with everyone sitting down and silence descended among the crowd. Then, during what would have been an exceptionally beautiful solo performance, the scream of some person in the balcony, expressing their feelings for the singer, deflated the moment like a popped balloon.

Bob and Scott ran back on stage, picked up their respective instruments, and the band played "Paranoia in B Major", from 'Emotionalism." Next, a rousing "Denouncing November Blue", also from "Four Thieves Gone." As they played their instruments and sung, one could not help noticing the joyfulness that these guys exude. All of them feed off of each others energy, barely able to keep their feet on the floor, with Bob Crawford jumping up and down while playing his upright bass, Scott stomping both feet on the floor as he played his banjo, and Seth, with his guitar, whipping his head back in forth with the music. Do they not have concerns of whiplash? Strings were breaking and sweat was flying. Good stuff!

Scott Avett's feet seemed to become even more manic as they played "Hard Worker", a tune from their earlier days. The crowd roared their approval and everyone seemed to be standing up, not able to contain their feet either! Then some silence descended once again as Scott broke out into "Pretty Girl from Greensboro". As the crowd caught on to the song, they stood once more, dancing in front of their seats and yelling every time he sang out the word "Greensboro".

The next treat was Joe Kwan coming out to join the rest of the band on "Die, Die, Die" from 'Emotionalism", on cello. He would remain on stage throughout the rest of the show. Watching him and Bob Crawford interact with their respective instruments and each other was indeed a treat. They seem to have fun doing what they do. Scott was on the drums for this one. Is there any instrument these boys can't play?

Then the audience was treated with "Solomon", a newer as yet unreleased song, Joe Kwon's cello performance on this song really adds a lot of depth. Fantastic.

Next, one of my favorites, "Distraction #74", from "Four Thieves Gone". This led into "Go To Sleep" from "Emotionalism". I was impressed at how well Joe Kwon, a recent addition to the crew, not only added a different feel to the older songs, but also, how well he fit in with the rest of the group on stage. Singing along, eyes closed, he literally tears up his bow strings, ala true Avett style.

The next surprise was Bob Crawford, who blew everyone away by taking the lead vocal on "40 East", another 'Four Thieves Gone" tune. His voice is significantly different than that of Seth and Scott, mellower, softer. What a great vocal performance from this guy, a songwriter as well, having put out his own project "New Jersey Transient" in 2006.

Scott took lead vocals again on another newer as of yet unreleased song, "Late In Life". It is interesting to watch the band as they perform these newer songs. They are more stationary on the stage, seeming to concentrate on their playing, singing and each other, as if they are striving for perfection in the showcasing of the tune. On to another new song, which Scott wrote and sings solo, "Murdered In the City." An amazing, heart touching song about family ties and the love of family. There are some humorous lines in this song, as Scott Avett ponders, "which one of us my parents loved the most." He divulges something of himself with, "I sure did get in lots of trouble." There were many a tear in the eyes of the folks sitting by me and myself, though, by the end of that one. "There is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." Wow.

Next, "Salina", from "Emotionalism", with Seth Avett on piano! If I recall correctly, this was most certainly an Avett first. This was absolutely beautifully done. The song speaks of being on the road and away from home. Tonight, it was absolutely heart rendering and riveting, with Joe Kwon's cello in the last moments of the song just seeming to drip with longing.

I must intercede here with my chagrin at the folks who feel the need to yell, scream and whistle during a moment when the absolute mastery of this art should be the entire focus. There certainly are other songs where this would be more than appropriate; such as when the band brought the house back to their feet with a resounding rendition of the Doc Watson song, "Wanted Man". Not one person in the crowd was left in their seats, as the song reverberated throughout the auditorium, seeming to bounce from one person to the next. Now, I thought, is when those who feel the need to scream their thoughts should do so. Along with the band members, everyone there just couldn't help but stomp their feet, yell and sing along.

At this point, just when I thought the excitement couldn't get any better and no one's blood could pump any faster, the band broke out with "Pretty Girl from Chile" from "Emotionalism". This was great; a full production, with lights going completely out during the mid point of the song, and as the lights flashed and finally came back up, Seth was on the drums, and lo and beheld, Bob was on bass guitar...well, now. This was good stuff!!

Understandably, at this point, the four musicians went backstage, for a much needed short break. And it was indeed short, filled with the calls of "Avett, Avett!!" and much foot stomping.

The band walked back on stage with sister, Bonnie, in tow. I heard many a whisper of, "Swept Away, they're going to sing Swept Away." The fans were correct. An old favorite, the audience sung along, but not overly so, from my stand point. It was a great moment of energy and appreciation from the audience to the artists and back. Bonnie then left the stage to much deserved applause.

Suddenly, Scott belted out "Greensboro Woman." Was I hearing this right? I thought, hmmm...oh my, it was a Townes Van Zant cover. I couldn't contain my enthusiasm and neither could other listeners as once the song was recognized, people went wild!! Such a great rendition and so appropriate for this, a night of all nights.

To top off this musical Avett Brothers sundae, they broke into a vigorous rendition of "Will You Return?" from 'Emotionalism". As the auditorium walls seemed to vibrate with the applause from the standing crowd, I certainly hoped so. The band then left the stage, bowing their gratitude to all.

My thanks to the band, their crew, their families and the fans for what had become, indeed, "An Evening with The Avett Brothers."