Live: The Avett Brothers at Sunset Cove Amphitheater

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The Avett Brothers
Sunset Cove Amphitheater
Friday, February 10

Better than: Having a priest forgive all your sins.

Under Orion's Belt, a beautiful, chilled wind caressed the faces of the crowd as they shouted back to the Avett Brothers. They rejoiced, as if hearing a sermon that cleansed their souls. Friday night at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, when the brothers sang "Blame, please lift it off" from their song "Shame," a zealous girl cried out, "Please!"

To truly grasp how the Avett Brothers combine various genres of music, creating one all unto itself, you have to hear them live. Sure, labeling them as folk rock is right. But the lyrics to their ditties combine the poetry of an indie-rock song with the topics typical of country music. They sing about their parents, often, and who in the rock world does that? Scott Avett screams into the mic, like during "Shame," and the fervor energy is all punk. There is some honky-tonk, but that never lasts long enough to make it feel like you're at a hoedown (which is a feat).

To list the crowd highlights, see the set list below. Whenever a ballad came out, the whole crowd sang along. And not like regular shows when the drunk jerk squawks in front of you. This crowd was like a backing choir (people don't do that at an Interpol concert.) When they performed a new song, "Once and Future Carpenter," the crowd, for the first time, went completely silent, absorbing every note.

The venue fit perfectly (even though this reviewer did three locale changes before finding the perfect spot). The crowd wrapped itself tightly around the stage. Sunset Cove is a no-seat venue. It's a bring-your-blanket venue. On the right, it was difficult to see cellist Joe Kwon, and missing him perform is not acceptable. An Avett brother introduced Kwon to the audience by saying "Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane" was about Kwon. And, during it, as he shredded his bow, his 
long black hair covered the front of his face, headbanging but to the rhythm of his cello. A
s one believer in the audience put it, "The guy with the cello is singing the songs, and he doesn't even have a microphone. Now, that's rock 'n' roll!"
A cloth quilt hung behind the stage, changing different colors with the lights. Seth Avett, in l
ight-blue skinny, skinny jeans, brought out the electric guitar only for "Colorshow," making it a powerful hitter. Kwon's strings broke, but still, he sounded flawless. When Seth sang "

Critic's notebook:

Personal bias: I heard them live at Orlando Calling before I even knew they existed. They won me over within three songs.

Random detail: Scott Avett's falsetto sounds like a beautiful bird singing. How appropriate.

The crowd: Well, they weren't stoned. Security was seriously patrolling.

Overheard in the crowd: About the lyric: "Lucifer below, God above," a man pointed out, "That's a great line!"

Geography:  North Carolina might be the heart of America, because that's where the Avett Brothers are from. They shook as many hands as they could at the end of the show.

Set list:
"Will You Return?"
"Paranoia in Bb Major"
"The Fall"
"At the Beach"
"Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"
"Tin Man"
"Once and Future Carpenter"
"Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane"
"January Wedding"
"Denouncing November Blue"
"And It Spread"
"I Killed Sally's Lover"
"Down with the Shine"
"Slight Figure of Speech"
"When I Drink"
"Murder in the City"
"I and Love and You"
"Living of Love"
"Go to Sleep"

"The Ballad of Love and Hate"
"Talk on Indolence" 

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