Last night’s show at the Fox Theater was, I believe, the third time I have seen The Avett Brothers earnest mash-up of folk, pop and punk (courtesy of The Bay Bridged’s weekly Ticket Giveaway Wednesday contest). The first time was in 2006 at a mid-size Detroit club on a rainy weeknight in November. About 20 people showed up. The other 19 crowded the stage and sang along to every song.
Now they’re packing 2,000-seat venues back-to-back, and they’ve grown from an acoustic bluegrass trio to a five-piece rock ‘n’ roll band complete with a drummer.
The one thing that hasn’t changed in that time is the North Carolina group’s gracious gratitude to fans and its commitment to a memorable, energetic performance.
- My darling fiancee’s reaction upon seeing opening act Jessica Lea Mayfield: “Is she trying to look like Liza Minnelli?” She quickly moved beyond Mayfield’s looks and became an instant fan of the Ohio alt-country singer, insisting that we buy one of her CDs after she finished her set.
- I almost made it through the show without complaining like a grumpy old man that I was surrounded by a bunch of newbies who knew every word to each song off of I and Love and You but had apparently never heard “Denouncing November Blue” before. Almost.
- Also, apparently I was one of 12 people who knew “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” which the band played, joined by Mayfield, as its final encore number, culminating in a not-entirely-successful a cappella singalong. The Carter Family? Nitty Gritty Dirt Band? No? Nothing? Come on, Bay Area! Learn your roots music!
- Also covered: The brothers sang a lovely rendition of Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away” with just the two of them around a single microphone. Later, Scott Avett and Mayfield did a charming version of the traditional Irish folk song “Seven Drunken Nights.”
- The young woman behind me when Seth Avett played the opening guitar riff for “Living of Love“: “Well, I’ll be in tears in approximately 10 seconds.”
- Seth Avett, coming out for the encore, teased the audience by offering to just keep playing until it was time for “tomorrow night’s show.”
The Avett Brothers are indeed doing a second show at 8 p.m. today at the Fox, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, and some balcony tickets are still available for $37.50 plus fees.
Meanwhile, here’s photographic evidence of the evening:
Or in gallery format, if you prefer: