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Like No Others, The Avett Brothers

Adriana Pratt | Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I forgot my plaid shirt. And my can of beer. But I had my sway on and a friend by my side and that was all that was needed to enjoy the folksy musical trolling of the Avett Brothers Sunday night.
As the Murat Egyptian Room lights dimmed in Indianapolis and the opening act, The Low Anthem, took the stage filling the atmosphere with hippie folk rock, a sense of serenity fell over the crowd preparing us for the magical night that was ahead. The opening band, a group of four from Rhode Island, brought their own flair to the stage and invited us into their trance of musical harmony, opening our ears to new sounds with innovative instruments. Their ending song changed pace and quickly shook us from our reverie, waking us up just in time for the two brothers, Scott and Seth Avett, their bassist Bob Crawford and their cellist Joe Kwon to take the stage.
Never have I seen a cellist like Joe Kwon. He was the most fascinating character to watch by far (even more so than the drunken college bros in front of me) and worked his bow with such precision that he seemed as practiced as a doctor using his scalpel in surgery. His look was a total contradiction — a classy suit with shaggy hair and a Genghis Kahn-like mustache/beard combo. He rocked that cello though, forcefully and passionately, adding vigor to the mutt musical styling of the Avett Brothers.
The Avett Brothers, though their instruments include a banjo, cello, standing bass and acoustic guitar, don’t quite fit the bluegrass genre, nor are they fully folk, punk or rock and roll. They’re a mix of genres, a unique entity unto their own. This, combined with their simple yet surprisingly profound lyrics, makes them a fascinating band to listen to. Just when you think you can push them into one category and set aside their CDs for chill time, you hear a song like “Distraction #74” that makes you want to link arms with a person nearby and spin around (which we did with those drunken bros in front of us).
The set list weaved between fast and slow numbers, highlighting each member of the band at one point or another. Scott and Seth took turns singing the lead vocals, allowing for one favorite moment in particular when Scott (or “Hottie Scottie” as my friend likes to call him) performed the cryptic song “St. Josephs,” one I hadn’t heard before. The melancholy soft strumming of Scott and his brother’s guitar strings matched with the mysterious lyrics about a hospital stay were entrancing and bittersweet.
“Murder in the City” was also poignant and sweet, recalling memories of sibling rivalry, parental pride and a last will made of love for a family. The closing two lines, “Always remember, there’s nothing worth sharing/ Like the love that let us share our name,” are as charming as a song can get, and struck a chord with the women lusting after the simple loving world of the Avett Brothers.
There’s a reason these men were picked to open for Dave Matthews Band during a portion of their spring 2009 tour. They’ve got talent, sincerity and simple passion that reverberate with every pluck of their instrument strings. The only thing that left me blue was the fact that they didn’t play my personal favorite Avett song, “I Would Be Sad.” Regardless, I left the concert feeling refreshingly light and worry-free … until I got back to campus and remembered it’s Midterms Week. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Thanks for the break from reality Avett Brothers — to put me in such a serene mood, there really are no others.