Comcast Arena, Everett
Friday, July 15
The Avett Brothers have a reputation for putting on some of the most energetic live shows>"/>
The Avett Brothers have a reputation for putting on some of the most energetic live shows around. When they played the Paramount last year, the performance brimmed with so much energy, gratitude, and epic, string-fueled rock I got a contact buzz from all the pep. I took home some great memories, but also the idea that such levels of enthusiasm never wane for the group. When the band rolled through Everett Friday night at Comcast Arena -- smack-dab in the middle of a tour -- they performed expertly but left me feeling strangely disconnected from the experience.
One thing's for sure: Everett is definitely not Seattle. The fair city to our north does have its charms, but Seattle would have put more butts in seats. The Brothers have toured through Seattle regularly for years -- having played the Paramount, Neumos, and the Tractor -- and have established a strong, loyal fan base here. The Comcast Arena was a strange choice for their stop off in this part of the Northwest; it was dishearteningly half-full, and the vacuous hum of a half-empty stadium took the place of what might have been the excited buzz of a sold-out venue. The house cheered when the band took stage, but the roar seemed to bounce off empty seats back onto the crowd, burdening audience and band alike with the disappointing truth of it.
The set was heavy on I and Love and You, including the title track, "January Wedding," "And It Spread," "Kick Drum Heart," along with new song, "The Once and Future Carpenter" (presumably off their forthcoming album with producer Rick Rubin at the helm again). Cellist Joe Kwan was a nut, bopping around stage and whipping his jet-black mane while Bob Crawford remained solidly anchored to his upright bass. Somehow, though, it seemed like Seth and Scott Avett never fully engaged. The songs were well-played and the brothers didn't miss a beat, but their exuberant charm and radiant stage presence was somewhere far away, as if they were just going through -- rushing, even -- the motions. For a Friday-night stadium show, I guess I expected a bit more from the group. Encore included, the house lights were up before 10:30 p.m., and it seemed like the Avett Brothers were in a hurry to leave before they ever got started.
The Scene: Smaller-than-expected crowd -- ample space to roam freely -- young fans in their early to late 20's, a much quieter vibe than the hordes of weekend warriors typically filling big stadiums for shows.
Other songs not listed: "The Fall," "Let Myself Live," "Go to Sleep," "Will You Return?" "Tin Man," Incomplete and Insecure." Encore: A cover of Alison Krauss' "Down to the River to Pray."