As much as I hate to admit it, The Avett Brothers aren’t one of my favorite little bands anymore. It’s interesting to watch these guys grow as a band, because outside of the size of the crowds, not much has changed. Whether the venue is big or small the Avetts do things the only way they know how – playing with the unbridled energy and exuberance of a band on the way up. The band often cites Virginia as “one of our favorite places,” not only because of it’s proximity to home state North Carolina, but because it was one of the first places the band’s now rabid following started to form. From the “Discovery Series” in the tiny historic Attucks theatre, to last year’s student run show at Old Dominion University, to this year’s “big-boy” amphitheater show the crowds have grown exponentially with each passing trip to the Commonwealth. The guys returned the favor with a long show full of energy, deep cuts, and great times.
This year’s show found the boys between the success of 2009′s major label debut (damn, has it been that long?), and their not-yet-detailed upcoming follow up. As with most bands touring in between albums, the show proved a great chance for old fans to hear the full gamut of the band’s back catalogue. After all, when your’e not touring what’s new, you’re most likely touring what’s best and this show was certainly no exception. While I and Love and You and Emotionalism comprised the bulk of the setlist, there were plenty of old favorites including a strong showing from Four Thieves Gone, Migonette, Carolina Jubilee, and even a “November Blue” showing from the bands debut Country Was.
I would be remiss to say that I wasn’t thinking “these guys would kill in a small room” throughout the show, but hey, that’s the breaks. A band that’s this good for this long is bound to grow, and it was only a matter of time before their act took it to the big stage. While there may be some validity in saying that the more intimate rooms and concert halls would better suit their sound, one thing is for sure - the Avett Brothers are going to play their faces off no matter the venue. Between Seth’s Elvis-esque dance moves, the tightest harmonies you’ve ever heard, plenty of stellar hits, peaks and valleys of energy and the cohesion that only comes from a veteran band, an Avett Brothers show is one heck of a good time. The fact of the matter is, I can whine all I want about the size of the venue, but if these guys played the National Mall on the 4th of July you’d find me fighting through the crowds and singing along. If anyone is going to make it big, I’m glad it’s these guys!