Saturday, October 09, 2010

Avett Brothers 'Tear Down the House' at Walnut Creek

Photos by Allison Hussey
Concord quartet The Avett Brothers played a much anticipated, long overdue Triangle show last night at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre. It was their first Triangle show since opening for Dave Matthews in April of 2009, and their first area headlining show since the Gleam II release/homecoming show at Cary's Booth Amphitheatre in July 2008. There were a few doubtful murmurs that the group could handle headlining such a large venue, but those murmurs were quickly hushed once the evening began.

Brandi Carlile opened the show with a short set of guitar-driven, country-tinged rock. The crowd was still pretty sparse as she took the stage, and she took the time to thank those who had bothered showing up to see the opening act. Some of the crowd seemed unsure about the Seattle native until she broke out her Johnny Cash covers — "Jackson" sliding right into "Folsom Prison Blues." Carlile brought her set to a close with a beautiful cover of Alphaville's 1984 hit "Forever Young." Though a longer set may have been appreciated, the crowd was eager to get to the main event: The Avett Brothers.

Finally, the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, and Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, and Seth and Scott Avett stepped out onstage. Also included was a drummer named Jacob Edwards, who performed on most of the songs. They played an excellent set that drew from all corners of their catalog, from their first album Country Was all the way up to their most recent studio release, I and Love and You. They even pulled out a new song, "Pretty Girl from Michigan," a great bluesy, '50's sounding tune.

As they transitioned out of "Talk on Indolence," Scott made sure to give shout-outs to the smaller venues the group had played over the years, among them The Brewery, The Lincoln Theatre, The Pour House, Sadlack's, and the recently reopened Kings. As he rattled off a few more, it was almost hard to imagine that not so terribly long ago, this group was lucky to play to ninety people, much less almost nine thousand.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the evening was the band's ability to bring their trademark vivacity to even their most gentle songs, such as "Tear Down the House." Even the most casual Avett fan has to admit that there is nothing quite like what they have in terms of a live performance. Cellist Joe Kwon hopped around the stage, clutching his cello and singing, while Bob Crawford rocked along as best as he could (it's not easy with an upright bass). The Avetts, meanwhile, thrashed about as they pleased — Seth danced, Scott made arm gestures as he sang.

The band finished their twenty-song set with not one but two encores, finally wrapping up the show with "Will You Return." "Will you come again?/It's hard to say/ I surely hope so," sang Scott, effectively reading the minds of everyone in the crowd. Every member looked more amazed than exhausted as he left the stage, and amazed they should be. They proved that with some good music and a lot of love, wonderful things can happen.

Set list
The Fall
Tin Man
November Blue
Die Die Die
Distraction #74
January Wedding
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Slight Figure of Speech
Tear Down the House
Jenny and the Summer Day
Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane
Pretty Girl from Michigan
I and Love and You
Kick Drum Heart
And it Spread
Talk on Indolence
I Killed Sally's Lover
The Perfect Space
Go to Sleep
Pretty Girl from Raleigh
Paranoia in Bb Major
Laundry Room
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Will You Return

The Avett Brothers

Brandi Carlile

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