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A grand token of North Carolina gratitude

March 8, 2010

The Avett Brothers with The Low Anthem
House of Blues
Chicago, Illinois
March 7, 2010

“Thank your for the music you make,” a voice shot out from the densely packed floor of the Chicago House of Blues. Amongst the massive throng gathered around the stage it’s quite impressive that such a cry was audible at all, and yet another thing that it was loud enough for the brothers Avett, Seth and Scott, to hear on stage, in-ear monitors and all. But there it was.

A cheer went through the crowd, echoing the sentiment of the stentorian voice, letting their own appreciation be heard. And on stage the brothers stood, amidst changing and tuning guitars or banjos, clearly awed by the sentiment of the audience member.

“What a brave thing to say in a crowd like this,” Seth responded, a clear sense of humility in his voice. “It’s hard to tell over a microphone but we really are grateful for you all, you make the music.” What followed, the crowd and the band combining to make the music, was an incredible culmination of gratitude elevating the songs of The Avett Brothers to a whole new level.

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The evening began a bit less than favorable for opening act The Low Anthem. Unfortunately for them, they were not the band that the majority of the crowd had come to see, and the voices of the drunken Avett-seekers did not permit the soft beauty of their music to resonate throughout the venue.

When the Rhode Island natives took on some of their more energetic songs (“Home I’ll Never Be,” “The Horizon is a Beltway,” etc.) the crowd responded with enthusiasm. However, most crowd members were more interested in procuring their next drink than what The Low Anthem had to offer.

As the curtain closed prior to the Avett’s performance the atmosphere began to change. Suddenly the standing room was tighter and the anticipation was palpable. When the curtains were drawn again to reveal the brothers and their band the room erupted in applause and within the first 15 seconds of “The Fall” the whole floor was moving with the bodies of the audience, up and down.

As they worked their way through hits from their decade-long career the crowd amplified the lyrics and gave the band an infusion of energy. The band returned their enthusiasm with a truly inspired performance, moving and jumping, in general having a great time. None more than bass player Bob Crawford who played games with cellist Jo Kwon, the tour drummer and even the crowd; he wore his passion on his sleeve and on the smile on his face.

Though the venue was large and impersonal the Avett’s gave the space the feeling of closeness and intimacy as they played. They made the evening a family affair by welcoming their cousin Gina, a Chicago native, to drum along for a song, and their enthusiasm for family was apparent and quite special.

After shredding at least a half dozen banjo strings, Scott made the decision to let his brother Seth play “The Ballad of Love and Hate” solo on stage. As Seth plucked his way through the first half of the song he kept reaching for the tuning pegs, eventually he gave up on finding the proper tuning and pulled the guitar off his shoulder, singing the better half of the song a capella.

His beautiful voice rang out above the crowd, which had diminished from its roar to a reverent hum. As the song came to a close the crowd thundered back to life and Scott came back out to praise his brother. The evening was even more special after that, and it went on in what felt like constant rising action.

The brothers and their band kept pumping energy into the crowd, seeming to never grow tired they marched on playing for two complete hours and leaving the stage to deafening applause. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would bet that no one left the venue without feeling like they had just seen something very special.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    March 8, 2010 7:28 pm

    Amazing show! Spot on description of the venue atmosphere and energy of the crowd!

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