Concerts, good concerts, are extended periods of blissful sensory overload. The music is so loud it fills your ears (for hours afterward) and pounds in your chest, your nose is filled with the smell of the people around you and their life — beer and pot, sunscreen, and skin — and your eyes, well your eyes are consumed totally by all that there is to see: the dancing and playing and singing of the men on stage, the dancing and movement of the people in the crowd, and the slow, hour glass-esque turn of the sky from evening blue to nighttime black.
The Avett Brothers concert was a really good concert.
The boys came out on stage to standing ovation and raucous applause. The music began immediately and overwhelmingly. Seth in hillbilly bowl-cut and beard, long-sleeve henley and dark jeans. His legs were scarecrow thin. He stomped and marched them frenetically as he played his guitar and sang. Meanwhile his brother, Scotty, wore a cowboy hat and played a banjo with a decorated face. He lifted his hands and raised his arms high like a revival preacher — he looked at the crowd and saw them. Then a drummer and a bass player were there too. Playing and supporting. Rounding out the bunch was Joe Kwan, a striking cellist with long, straight black hair. He held the cello against his chest and staggered around with stiff legs and closed eyes as though “slain in the spirit” at the same revival service that Scotty was preaching. With each ensuing song I watched his bow become more and more ragged — broken hairs swinging loose from one end as he bowed furiously, skipped, jumped and sang.
The music was everything you would want: tight, heart-felt, country-soaked, and fun. The Avett Brothers played for almost 2 hours — bringing out fan favorites and many of the well-loved songs from their current album. My favorite moment: singing “I and Love and You” Scotty led the crowd in lifting up fingers as they sang the final line “I and” — one finger, “love and” — a second finger, “you” — a third finger on hands held lingeringly high. Again and again he sang out the refrain and the crowd obliged, lifting up their hands. The Avetts and their band thanked the crowd again and again for the chance to come play in Oregon and in that moment, them leading and the crowd responding, it was clear they really meant it and the crowd was thanking them, too.