Sweat rolled down Scott Avett’s arm and dripped from his elbow like tears to the stage, a testament to the pure physical power he channeled into his banjo and soaring vocals. As the set continued on the thought of Scott Avett passing out from dehydration seemed to become more and more plausible. Every time he moved his head he looked like a puppy shaking himself dry after running through a lawn sprinkler. Luckily for the packed house at Slim’s, Scott defied medical logic and kept rocking through the night.
The Avett Brothers are a acoustic trio out of North Carolina. Brothers Seth Avett (vocals, guitar, percussion, piano) and Scott Avett (vocals, banjo, percussion, harmonica) have been breaking down genre barriers and melding musical styles with bassist Bob Crawford since the early 2000’s. After a string of albums and years of relentless touring that helped the band cultivate a fiercely loyal fan base the trio finally found commercial success with 2007’s “Emotionalism.” Don’t let the title fool you; this album has no correlation to the girl-pants clad, smudged eye-liner wearing scenesters loitering at your local Hot Topic. This group of musical trendsetters are constantly evolving and maturing with each release.
The Avett Brothers are being accompanied on their current tour by a stand-up cellist. The extra set of strings round out the sound without holding back the energy of a live show.
When trying to find a specific genre the band falls into, you run into some road blocks. Combining elements of bluegrass, folk, rock, punk and traditional Americana sounds, the Avett Brothers defy labels. Fans often refer to them as “Grunge-grass.” The band falls in line with what is typically accepted as “alternative country” music (which can also be found under such affectionate names as y’allternative, alt.country, Americana, roots punk, and folkadelic-newgrassy- rootsicana).
The Avett Brothers are more than just wailing banjos and screaming vocals. The brothers themselves are blessed with genetics that allow them to harmonize nearly perfectly together, and Crawford’s voice compliments them well. The band plays simple songs with chords, and their light hearted tunes (like the “Pretty Girl From…” series of songs) are balanced out by heart-felt ballads, like “The Ballad of Love and Hate” and the straight-forward harmonies of “Salvation Song.”
When the boys played “Die, Die, Die,” off of their most recent album, the road the band is now on was clear. The song, which was featured on a Paste Magazine sampler CD, was sung by nearly every member of the crowd; hundreds of voices were raised in a lilting twang, filling the San Francisco night with the feel of North Carolina. The Avett Brothers draw a varied crowd. Near the front of the stage a group of 12-year-olds and 13-year-old’s danced alongside frat boys and hippies and AARP members. It seemed there is no “typical” Avett Brothers fan. Their sound transcends the barriers of age and musical taste.
If you feel like you need more banjo rock in your life but don’t know where to turn contact Jesse at email@example.com for advice.