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Joy and celebration

The Avett Brothers
Turner Hall
Milwaukee, WI
March 6, 2010
The Avett Brothers

Story by Jeff Purcell
Photos by Gypsy Davey

Anticipation had reached a fevered pitch by the time the Avett Brothers took the stage Saturday night at the Riverside Theater, in Milwaukee. With the release of their most recent critically acclaimed album I and Love and You, tickets for this show sold so well that the venue was changed from Turner Hall to the Riverside Theater to accommodate twice the fans and it still sold out like many of the other dates on this tour. Those who attended were not disappointed as this show lived up to the hype.

There is certainly a bluegrass, folk and country foundation in their style and delivery but they move beyond traditional reverence with their own infusion of rock, punk and even hip-hop influences. On stage the Avett Brothers are more than the some of their parts. The actual brothers Scott and Seth are like so many other brother acts in rock history, able to sing incredible harmonies, displaying a sixth sense of timing and knowing what the other is doing without ever communicating it. Both are multi instrumentalist but Scott on banjo and Seth on acoustic guitar seemed to be where each is most comfortable. The addition of Bob Crawford on double and electric bass and Joe Kwon playing the cello brings a fullness to their live sound. Additionally they were joined onstage by a fifth none band member to play drum parts on a few songs. The results are an explosion of acoustic sounds that are very pure and allow each part to be heard clearly, all this serves as the foundation for the superb vocal talents of Scott and Seth as the harmonized together, traded parts, bantered and even threw down a few hip hop rhymes.

What makes the Avett Brothers special are the songs. The acoustic arrangements, the vocal harmonies are all in service of the songs to communicate the raw emotions and power of the lyrics. The audience is right there with them along for a ride down the roads of their Concord North Carolina hometown. The songs celebrate the human condition; themes included sentimental songs of regret and of family and belonging, leaving home, missing home, returning home and even silly love songs. A lot of the songs had a sadness and sentimentality about them without sounding trite or sappy and these sad songs drew the crowd in to their intimate world. That transcendent feeling of a shared experience is what live music is all about and the Avett Brothers tapped into that Saturday night. This was truly a great performance at a great moment in their development as performers and song writers.

All that sadness and sentimentality aside there is also a great sense of joy and celebration. The band literally poured every ounce of sweat they had into a non-stop, high energy show that had the capacity crowd singing and sweating right along with them.

Setlist (courtesy of
Head full of Doubt/Road full of Promise
Laundry Room
At the Beach
Yard Sale
Slight Figure of Speech
Murder in the City
When I drink
Tin Man
Kick drum Heart
My Losing Bet
Paranoia in B-flat Major
The Perfect Space
January Wedding
Pretty Girl from Raleigh
The Greatest Sum
Talk on Indolence
I and Love and You


And it Spread
Rolling in my sweet Baby's Arms

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