The Avett Brothers delight thousands at Verizon Arena: The band plays a marathon set in support of their latest album, “Magpie and the Dandelion”
It is precisely 8:15 p.m. and the crowd at Verizon Arena, as if on queue, begins to cheer, scream and yell as The Avett Brothers take to the dimly lit stage amid white flashes emanating from cell phone cameras near and far.
Scott Avett – armed with a banjo, a harmonica affixed to the collar of his shirt – and Bob Crawford, carrying a simple fiddle, began playing as they walked to the end of the catwalk that jutted out from the middle of the stage.
The yellow spotlight draped the two as they opened up the show by playing “The Arkansas Traveler,” to the delight of a few thousand fans who were in attendance Nov. 8 during the band’s first stop of a three-week tour around the U.S.
Seth Avett (guitar) and Joe Kwon (cello) chipped in on the tail end of the song and the band smoothly transitioned into a well-polished version of “Colorshow,” from 2006’s “Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions” album.
It didn’t take long to play a cut from their new album, “Magpie and the Dandelion,” as the opening track from that album appeared as the third song in the band’s setlist.
The band chugged through more than 25 songs when it was all said and done, giving attention to songs from just about every studio album.
The band’s minimalist approach in their songs mirrored their stage set-up: a blank white canvas sheet (which later turned into a florescent pink and black canvas depicting a couple of magpies), instruments, amps, lights and a rug to stand on.
The four main members of The Avett Brothers – Seth and Scott, Carpenter and Joe Kwon – were able to play a variety of instruments, some playing more than one instrument at a time. Scott was able to manage banjo, harmonica, bass drum and vocal duties, while Seth was responsible for guitars, vocals and high-hat. Crawford dabbled between upright bass, bass guitar and fiddle, occasionally providing back-up vocals and harmonies. Kwon stuck to the cello and also provided vocal texture on occasion.
Two touring musicians helped out by occasionally playing drums and a variety of key-based instruments.
The Avett Brothers seem to be at their best when Seth has an electric guitar in his hand, which gives the songs a harder edge. Up-tempo songs seem to let the band have the most fun, as shown by Kwon’s behavior during such songs.
On more than one occasion, Kwon would play his cello so quickly and emphatically that his black cowboy hat would fly off his head and he would begin to head bang, swinging his hair in a helicopter propeller motion, much like many death metal guitarists do. Kwon was fun to watch and brought an exciting dynamic to the band. Seth also brought an exuberant amount of energy to the stage, frequently shimming and gliding around on the stage while playing his guitar. His long and skinny stature made for some fun and silly impromptu dancing-in-place.
The band’s performance clocked in at just over two hours, which is even more impressive knowing that the band members did not talk very much between songs, if at all. The band’s powerful and diverse songs kept the attention of this audience of new and diehard fans.
As the band rounded out “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise,” they exited the stage with even more fanfare and applause than when they began. The fans stood tall, clapping and cheering as they requested an encore performance.
After a minute or two of applause and cheer, Scott came up to the microphone and said “thank you” and Seth was right behind him assuring the crowd, “we would love to!”
The band finished the night by playing a handful of songs before exiting the stage, giving scores of fans a night they’ll remember for a long time.
John Anderson, a senior mass communication major and the recipient of two tickets given away by The Forum, said he left as a new fan.
“Before going to the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I had only heard their music a few times from my sister,” he said.
“I really enjoyed the concert and I was very impressed with how diverse their music was. They would transition from a slower indie type of song into a fast-paced country song.”
“They definitely put on a great show and I decided to download their latest cd, ‘Magpie and the Dandelion,’ and it is awesome!”
The Avett Brothers latest album, “Magpie and the Dandelion” hit No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart after it was released Oct. 15.