Words by: Sarah Dixon | Images by: Zach Mahone
The Avett Brothers and Truth & Salvage Co. :: 04.21.10 :: Boulder Theater :: Boulder, CO
I walked into the Boulder Theater a curious music seeker, having dabbled in the music of The Avett Brothers and openers Truth & Salvage Co. but not knowing what to expect from the live show. I walked out four hours later a newly converted fan and loyalist of both groups, and the next day bought tickets to see them reprise their double-bill (along with Gov't Mule) at Red Rocks in September.
The show opened with a rousing set by Truth & Salvage Co. Their reputation as "show stealers" (quoting friends who became fans after seeing the six-member band open for The Black Crowes last fall) proved true. Their sound is defined by rich, layered harmonies, floating blues riffs, and hammering ivory currents. Four of the band members claim the title "lead singer," allowing each song to present a different tone and character.
"We all grew up in different parts of the country, so we each bring different inspirations," said singer-guitarist Scott Kinnebrew in the lobby after their set. "There's New Orleans funk, country, indie rock. We like all kinds of music; they all contribute to our sound."
As does the vivid storytelling nature of their songs. The camaraderie onstage seeped into the audience as we swayed to new rock anthems including the bluesy "Call Back" and the gritty country "Heart Like a Wheel." At the end of the set, the Boulder Theater was alive with electricity and anticipation.
I'm often smitten after a live music experience. Awed by what I've seen, enchanted by the creative process, exhilarated by the energy shared. But I'm seldom surprised.
The Avett Brothers, with their completely singular sound, moving lyrics and raw, emotional connection with the audience took me entirely off guard. At the guidance of a good friend, I'd begun listening to their music a few months before the show. Their indefinable mix of folk, bluegrass, rock, Americana and a touch of punk captivated my interest. But experiencing this eclectic musical amalgamation in person brought my appreciation to a new level.
Listening to a song while driving, trying to follow the lyrics and capture the message is not always easy. Often, music becomes a backdrop for me, but when confronted by an artist opening his soul and his words to a crowd of hungry fans, the entire process bears a different significance. This truth was readily apparent in the stripped down performance of the touching "January Wedding" and "The Ballad of Love and Hate," lyrical tale of love's challenges. These deeply connective moments were balanced with fervent tunes that brought both the band and the appreciative crowd to crescendo after crescendo of emphatic dancing and cheering. "Paranoia in B Major" was perhaps the fever pitch of the night, the band surging across the stage with the momentum of the beat. Watching Joe Kwon sway with his cello, lifting it off the stage and swinging it in his arms like a dancing partner, was alone worth the price of admission.
I approached the evening with a curious open mind and left a devout fan. It's impossible to treat The Avett Brothers' music as background noise anymore. I now listen with rapt attention, soaking in the words, the lush string sounds and the impeccable melodies. My mind wanders dreamily to the date just four-and-a-half months from now when I will see it all again.
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