The Avett Brothers put on a great show for the end of the Cox Business Center’s run as a music hall.
Friday, the Cox Business Center held its final concert, presenting the Avett Brothers, a folk music band from North Carolina. Going in, this was the extent of what I knew about them, so I really had no idea what to expect from the concert. My friend seemed excited though, and that kept me hyped despite our not-so-stellar view and my very broken seat. (Now I think I know why they’re retiring this place as a concert venue.)
We got there pretty early, so I got a good sense of the crowd as they strolled in. The atmosphere among them was nice, like everyone knew each other, and no one was too rowdy — just a general buzz of excitement. There was a good mix of older people, families and hipster couples, but their one unifying characteristic was an intense affinity for buffalo plaid. I must have missed the dress code memo.
After about an hour of waiting, the lights died, the music started and the crowd went wild. My immediate impression was that they had a bluegrass sound to them, which wasn’t surprising, considering their instrumentation of a violin, banjo, guitar, cello, piano, harmonica, an upright bass and drum kit. From the moment they started playing, the band seemed into it, with the cellist jumping around while he played and the banjoist hitting intense lunges as he plucked away.
Strangely, their songs all sounded vaguely similar and yet wildly different at the same time. They had their frantic bluegrass and folksie songs with fast-paced plucking and bows sawing across cello and violin strings. Then a soft, romantic song, with a single light illuminating the pianist or guitarist as the vocals rise to a delicate falsetto. But then I was at a hard rock concert, headbanging along with driving guitar solos and intense lyric delivery.
To be honest, this wasn’t my kind of music. About halfway through, I’d gotten bored with the cutesy romance songs that had couples slow dancing in the aisles. But to their credit, they kept recapturing my attention with the more fiery pieces. A few moments in particular have stuck with me. At one point, the upright bassist went on a long solo that sounded like he was just tuning his bass in the middle of an otherwise fun song. Later, to the joy of the audience, Seth Avett came off stage and ran into the pit, which I guess justified those tickets being two hundred plus dollars.
Two hours and two encores later, I can say the Avett Brothers certainly rocked the place. The connection between the band and the audience was genuine, felt in the promises to never “sell out” and an “I love you too” shouted in response to an excited fan in the nosebleeds.