It’s safe to say the Avett Brothers have arrived. Thursday night, for the second time in less than two years, the North Carolina band drew a huge crowd to Crossroads KC.
Nearly 3,000 fans packed themselves into the outdoor venue, enduring the heat and humidity, and watched the Avetts put on a two-hour showcase of their often lively mix of country, bluegrass, rock and folk.
The Avetts are led by brothers Scott and Seth, and they harmonize like so many brothers can. They showcased those voices during a three-song duo-acoustic set toward the middle of the show.
The band’s career took a pivotal turn in 2009 when it released “I and Love and You,” an album produced by Rick Rubin. They played several of its tracks, and each drew a big response, especially the rap-infused “Slight Figure of Speech” and the percussive “Kick Drum Heart,” which ignited a tide of in-time fist pumping during the signature kick-drum riff.
The Avetts are a lively bunch, from the brothers to bassist Bob Crawford, drummer Jacob Edwards and cellist Joe Kwon, who gives the band’s sound an occasional orchestral flourish. There is a looseness to their sound that can be appealing — a roughness that says this is not perfection, it’s enjoyment of the moment.
They throw themselves physically into some of the livelier tunes, and that enthusiasm spreads to the crowd before them, at least among those way up front. The place was packed tight almost all the way to the picnic tables in back, where the sound was clear but the view diminished.
There were a few lulls, especially during some of the quieter numbers, when some fans acted like they were biding time until the next up-tempo song. As pretty as the duo-acoustic set was, it looked like half the crowd in back wasn’t paying much attention.
There were a few moments of thunder and roar that snapped any loose attentions back in place, none stormier than the end of “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” another crowd favorite.
They tossed in a worthwhile cover of Tom T. Hall’s “I Miss A Lot of Trains,” and played a rendition of a song they said they learned from Doc Watson, “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues.” They also played two songs off the coming album “Once and Future Carpenter,” including the title track and “Live and Die,” another breezy pop tune with lots of banjo on its hide.
They closed with the invigorating “Talk on Indolence,” another song with a rap built into it, which sent the big crowd off on a high. Earlier in the show one of the Avetts (I was too far back to tell which) told the crowd the band goes out of its way to stop in Kansas City at Crossroads KC because it has so much fun here.
It must be clear to them by now that their effort is appreciated and the feeling is mutual.
Setlist: Will You Return; The Fall; Down With The Shine; Famous Flower of Manhattan; And it Spread; January Wedding; Paranoia in B Major; The Weight of Lies; Wanted Man; Love Like the Movies; Colorshow; Slight Figure of Speech; Denouncing November Blue; Pretty Girl at the Airport; I Miss a lot of Trains (Tom T. Hall cover); Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise; When I Drink; Sanguine; Just a Closer Walk With Thee; Live and Die; Kick Drum Heart; Blue Ridge Mountain Blues; Laundry Room; I Killed Sally’s Lover. Encore: Murder in the City; Once and Future Carpenter; Talk on Indolence;
| Timothy Finn, The Star