The Avett Brothers

874-0Got my ass rocked off last night, which is always a good thing, but particularly so when you weren’t necessarily expecting to get your ass rocked off. An unexpected, revelatory, surprise ass rocking is the very very best kind. And when steely banjos and flying cellos are involved, well, then you just stand back on your heels and go, Shit, man. Who knew? Pipes knew, that’s who. That’s why he jumped on tickets for himself, Sassy Jewels, Ten Gallon, Gigi, and us as soon as they went for sale months ago. And, oh blessed Bertha, I am so glad he did!

Having given I and Love and You a few listen-throughs, I was expecting a soulful, bluegrassy, folksy show. I was not expecting to get my ass rocked off. I went in kind of blind, happy to ride along in the backseat of someone else’s idea for the night; Pipes is to be trusted in these matters. I got my first inkling that we might be in for something special during the opener: The Low Anthem. I left my group for a little scouting mission to see how far up we might be able to get and suddenly found myself in the hot pulsing belly of First Ave, totally enthralled but what I can only describe as thrashing hillbillies. They were very hairy (of head, not of body) and they were on fire, playing bluegrass like they were all hopped up on meth (which they weren’t. At least I don’t think they were). We only caught the end of their set, but it was frenetic and exhilarating, wild and raw. Speed bluegrass is not the kind of music I would necessarily listen to on my own, but so goes the magic of live music. When there’s that kind of energy and musicianship raging in front of your eyes, pummeling your rib cage, hell, it’s really hard not to get caught up. I was practically panting when I found my friends again.

When the Avett Brothers came on, First Ave exploded. They were ridiculously good. Ree. Dick. U. Lous. Now I get it. NOW I GET IT! I get why they’ve been sold out for  months. They were beyond sweet and gracious with the adoring crowd – obviously jacked up to be performing. North Carolina boys happy to be in Minnesota for a night. The brothers are beautiful song writers first and foremost, but man can they sing. The eldest, Scott, has a superhero voice – it’s shot through with gold streaks, completely unique and seemingly indefatigable – like an alloy of a man’s voice and a precious metal. After two hours of some serious singing, he sounded as fresh as a daisy – like I said, a friggin’ superhero. His brother, Seth, has the dulcet, pretty voice, the perfect sound to wrap under and over and all around his brother’s. Mmm. Wrap me up in that blanket anytime. Like sexy overgrown leprechauns, they jumped around, played a bunch of different instruments, tore through song after song – their talent and musicality was staggering – as was their energy. There’s a reedy blue grassy vein through all of it, but often they teetered into punk and the next song would have a total Buddy Holly feel to it and then, just as deftly, they’d woo us into a smoky honky tonk shack – all with a cool, sharp edge. It was just an amazing, amazing show, and now, listening to their album again, I realize it’s all in there – beautiful song writing with deep roots in country, folk, blues and rock served up in a completely modern, clean, brilliant way. It was good. Really good. Lucky fucking us.

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