Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Avett Brothers rock the Cradle for benefit show

Photo by Allison Hussey
Christmas came again for a few hundred Avett Brothers fans. Wednesday night's hottest ticket was undoubtedly The Avett Brothers, who quickly sold out Cat's Cradle for a last-minute show benefiting The Methodist Home for Children and the Carolina Farm Stewardship.

Ramseur Records announced the show around midnight on Monday, and tickets were gone within a half hour when they went on sale Tuesday morning. Several of those who weren't lucky enough to get tickets huddled outside of the venue before the show, hoping for a deal. Those who got in were treated to a perfect storm of a show — a fantastic way to warm up, enjoy some great music, and support good causes at the same time.

There was a bit of a delay getting The Avett Brothers started, but their performance was well worth the small wait. As has become their trademark, the group rocked the show with their signature wild, infectious energy. They kicked off the set with "Plague of Dreams" by former labelmates the everybodyfields. Later, Seth noted that it was not so long ago that he had stood with his wife-to-be at Cat's Cradle watching the everybodyfields before they opened for the Avetts. They got their covers out of the way quickly, playing Merle Haggard's "Rainbow Stew" before spending the rest of their set on originals.

One of the best features of the group's performance was the breadth of their catalog they covered. They hit almost every release, from A Carolina Jubilee all the way up to their most recent, I and Love and You. Seth and Scott gave the audience a late Christmas present when they took the stage alone to perform "When I Drink" and "Sanguine," both off of their first Gleam EP. This was a rare delight indeed, as that particular EP tends not to get much attention on the road. And while Four Thieves Gone rarely goes unnoticed with "Distraction #74" and "Talk on Incolence," "The Lowering (A Lonesome Day in Greenevilletown)" rarely gets the play time it deserves. The crowd fell silent as the brothers and company played a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the tune.

The encore felt unusually short, though the group did choose two great songs to finish the night. An eager, energetic crowd provided the vocals for much of "Paranoia in Bb Major," and the quartet closed with "Bella Donna." Overall, it was an amazing evening, and a great way to close out this year. Sorry, Punch Brothers, but I think the Avetts have booted you out of the number one slot of my favorite shows from this year. And to the Avett Brothers: let's do that again some time, okay?

Bombadil and The Low Anthem opened the show, with Rhode Island natives starting first. Many odd-looking instruments cluttered the stage, but unfortunately, their short set kept the band from taking advantage of most of them. They played a few songs off of their new record, Smart Flesh, due out in Feburary. One titled "Matter of Time" featured one member playing a hand saw with a violin bow, an unexpected yet intriguing addition to the song.

Several audience members seemed to be as excited to see the next act, Bombadil, as they were to see the Avett Brothers. The formerly Durham-based foursome went on hiatus in June of last year due to severe tendonitis in Daniel Michilak's hand. Their half-hour set was almost entirely new songs, save for "Honeymoon," off of their 2009 release Tarpits and Canyonlands. The band was also eager to announce that they have recorded a new album. Based on what they played tonight, it will definitely be a treat. Half an hour hardly felt enough to do this band justice, but it was still delightful finally getting to see this group perform.

The Avett Brothers' set list
Magazines (everybodyfields cover)
Talk on Indolence
The Fall
Rainbow Stew (Merle Haggard cover)
The Lowering (A Sad Day in Greenvilletown)
January Wedding
Tin Man
Down With the Shine
Kick Drum Heart
At the Beach
Pretty Girl from Raleigh
And it Spread
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
When I Drink
The Traveling Song
Pretty Girl from Michigan
I and Love and You
Slight Figure of Speech
Paranoia in Bb Major
Bella Donna

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