Before striking a single note, Scott Avett sprinted the length of Red Rock‘s sizable stage, waving his hands in the air like a mad man to fire up an audience that needed no such encouragement. On the second night of two sold out Avett Brothers shows, the sold out crowd was already with him.
As the sun disappeared over the foothills, the band launched into “Pretty Girl from Michigan” off their latest release, “The Carpenter.” “Go To Sleep,” from 2007’s “Emotionalism,” followed soon after with its unmistakably catchy banjo line and tight, brotherly harmonies.
The Avetts even treated the audience to news of an upcoming album due in the fall and played the song, “Skin and Bones,” which they hinted might be on the new release. The track is a road-weary tale of self-doubt and insecurity and treads a well-worn path for the Avett Brothers.
“I built the fence, I hung the sign,” they sing on the song. “Blood red letters saying keep in mind where I’ve been, so don’t come in. But how long can you live in shame. Drop a life-long curse on your last name. Trouble is I’m used to it.”
A couplet that could easily sit alongside “The Weight of Lies” off of “Emotionalism:”
“I once heard the worse thing a man can do is draw a hungry crowd. Tell everyone his name in pride and confidence but leaving out his doubt. I’m not sure I bought those words when I was young, I knew most everything.”
For all the weighty subject matter, the sheer exuberance and earnestness of the Avett’s best songs makes anthems out of quiet meditations on self-doubt. It’s enough to make the audience and performers literally jog in place as they sing them.
Insecurity isn’t supposed to be this fun.
But that’s par for the course for a band that gives, and gives, and gives. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Every word is delivered with the crispness of a cool Colorado night and the salty warmth of a North Carolina sea breeze.
Confessional, and above all, earnest in their love for their craft, the Avett Brothers put on a masterful and energetic performance that had the capacity crowd hanging on every word.
Bringing openers Old Crow Medicine Show on for an encore performance of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” was just the icing on the cake for an already memorable evening.
Ryan Johnson is a Denver videographer, social media strategist and guitar player for hire. Contact him here.
Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.