The Avett Brothers At Barclay Center On Saturday, October 5th, 2019, Reviewed
One of the saddest moments in live going experience was during the Lincoln Center Festival when Rodney Crowell claimed he never knew what to call his music till he heard of Americana. Rodney Crowell. Didn’t know to call country, county. But that’s the Americana con, a vernacular game of three card monte with no meaning: a little Gospel, a little roots, a lotta country, some r&b, mix it all together and you get nothing. That isn’t the only reason I never much cared for the Wyoming Avetts Brother, there sound is too tinny for my ears, the strong arrangements whined too much, and while they were good for a coupla songs an album, they weren’t good for great songs. Except, maybe five years ago when Bradi Carlisle covered their “Murder In The City” and ever since then I’ve wanted to catch em live. The song was simply too good. They deserved to be listened to. Also, after wandering around Brooklyn at 2am Thursday night trying to get back from the Madonna concert, I blew off Maluma on Friday and was hungry for a show (also the ticket was only $50).
Last night, the Avett Brothers were not great. The Avett Brothers are liberals, “We Americans” successfully points the finger, “The sins of Andrew Jackson, the shame of Jim crow,” the brothers Scott -who sings lead, and Seth, who harmonizes as required, have written interesting thoughts on a really, really bad song. And when they aren’t performing bad songs, they are attempting to change our line on the horizon. “Please make a sound if you feel there is hope for sure,” Seth shouts. And later, “I have met extremists from both the South and the North”. Now is not the time for moral equivalency. The North is filled with #metoo (one of those things complicated by the simple truth that 90% of women are sexually attracted to me”), safe spaces, triggers, micro aggression, and a whole lotta bullshit. But the Southerners are racists, supporting a dictator in waiting who attacks the weakest members of the society for no good reason whatsoever. Trump is a supervillain, and anybody who supports him, and any State that supports him, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, they should be cancelled. I am not a democrat, and given the field this year could certainly imagine voting for Mitt Romney over Joe Biden, but I’d vote for any democrat over Trump, any day of the week. The Avett Brothers half baked humanism is demoralizing and nauseating.
So get past the politics and the whole evening was a bore. Starting with opening act, Lake Street Dive. I wrote this about the band after seeing them at the Beacon in 2016 (here): “These guys have played maybe 1000 gigs, why can’t they talk to us? Why can’t they draw us in. Why can’t they show us the uniqueness of the moment?” And since then, the last album was a dog. To make matters more complicated, lead singer Rachael Price has broken her foot and performed the set on a throne a la Fetty Wap and Dave Grohl, making a very professional 45 minute show just that bit more boring. The good news is we got “Call Off Your Dogs” and their best song “Good Kisser”. What a trooper.
The Avett Brothers remind me of Kings Of Leon. First off, and what is this shit? Neither use close circuit TV so in a place the scale of Barclay Center only the first ten rows are seeing human beings with facial expressions. Next, they both have some killer songs. On The Avett Brothers new album, Closer Than Together, released on Friday, there is “Tell The Truth” (which they played and “C Sections and Railway Trestles” (yes, that C-Section about the birth of his son, which they didn’t perform). The Avett Brothers don’t have the voices -they aren’t the Everly Brothers, they harmonize sweet but it is too light for what they are attempting. The band, including sister Bonnie Avett-Rini on piano, are a touch too tasteful, and while Scott moves well (he goes out into the audience as well and is friendly and clearly a decent guy), and they are decent fellows, they are decent fellows who kind of suck and are always pushing towards a middle ground that doesn’t exist. From a country stomper like “High Steppin'” to a solo acoustic turn on “Murder In The City,” they do their little ol’ Americana best to join with the people in roots, pop, folk, and they fail.
In 2019, there is only one message: get rid of Trump, do that first then let’s put the North and South together. Trump isn’t democrats versus republicans, he is a dangerous monster. The only possible excuse for Trump is economic. I would rather die free and poor than rich and in chains: when Scott says that, maybe I’ll have some faith in his hope.