review by Travis Baer
photos by Kyle Johnson
This past Friday night The Paramount Theatre was converted from its usual majestic, golden state to a dusty southern bluegrass hall. The Avett Brothers, a folk-rock group from Concord, North Carolina, I feared would be at odds with the regal backdrop provided by the Paramount. Their sound has such a rustic quality to it that I had only ever imagined seeing them in a dirty bar or at some outdoor festival. But luckily this fear melted away the second they ripped into the opening song, “I Would Be Sad.” The crowd instantly recognized the track from Emotionalism and everyone began singing, dancing and jumping along with the show.
The set list was a mixed bag of b-sides, old songs, and cuts from their upcoming release I and Love and You. The brothers, Scott and Seth, were joined onstage by a cellist and upright bass player who helped fill out the sound as the band jumped from folk songs to bluegrass, to honky tonk, and everywhere in between. About midway through the two hour set Seth moved over to piano while Scott fingerpicked his way through “Laundry Room” from their upcoming September 29th release. The song starts out slowly with the brothers trading off vocals and slowly builds to a whipfast honky tonk breakdown which they milked for everything it was worth during the show, getting the already enthusiastic crowd back on their feet.
The set wound down to a close as the curtain they had been playing in front of rose to dipslay an enormous photo of the Brooklyn Bridge as they jumped into the title track of their new album, I and Love and You. The song’s slow organ and piano fit perfectly into the night and got the crowd geared up for the final encore which consisted of, “Head full of doubt, Road full of Promise” and “Pretty Girl From Matthews.”
The Heartless Bastards, a southern rock outfit from Cincinnati, started out the night. The frontwoman for the band, Erika Wennerstrom held her own in the large theater. Her vocals were mixed louder than any other part of the band, but she did not falter and kept the crowd warm for what was to come.