No, they didn’t play Salvation Song. I was really surprised by that. And I might as well get this out of the way, they didn’t play November Blue either. They played lots of other great things, which I’ll get to in a moment.
But first, I have to get the most negative aspect of my personal experience out of the way. On Friday night, many in the pit reported negative experiences with rude, drunk people. My experience was great in large part because I was surrounded by people that I know and who were there for the same reason that I was—the music. Being with your friends—your Avett family—is one of the absolute best parts of going to Avett shows for me. Last night I was joined by my actual family, and so I moved from the pit to the seats. I have had great experiences in seats (Atlanta this spring, for example) and some of the worst experiences I’ve had at Avett shows were in seats (Indianapolis, last year, night 2, the girl behind me screeching that she loved Seth all night long, singing out of tune to the songs she knew, talking through the ones she didn’t, and dumping her beer on my stuff. It was memorable.)
You see where this is going, right? I got some winners sitting next to me and behind me last night. The couple next to me showed up late, already drunk, had their hands all over each other the whole time (and a couple of times on me by mistake), beer held out over the heads of the nervous, seated, older couple in front of them, singing out of tune along with songs they kinda knew, including the quiet ones that you really shouldn’t sing along loudly to because then we can’t hear Scott and Seth, talking (mostly about when they were going to get more alcohol) through the songs they didn’t know, which were of course the songs that I most desperately wanted to be able to clearly hear. To illustrate how much your position matters, I was sitting in seat eight, the boys were between us, and my husband was in seat five. Husband didn’t hear any of that. One son was really bothered by people singing out of tune, but they were different people behind us. A couple of feet here or there has a big impact on your concert experience. My kids and my husband had a great time, and honestly it mattered more to me that they had a great concert than that I did.
I really really tried to be zen about the whole thing and tune them out. I am really really trying to be positive about it and focus on the important things, which is that the band BROUGHT IT last night and looking out over the pit, and hearing the reports from my friends who were in there, it was an epic concert. I just wish I could have heard more of it. This is the last thing that I’m going to say on this topic—anybody who buys concert tickets and then behaves as those people next to me did last night, and how so many people in the pit did on Friday night, are selfish. Deeply deeply selfish. They care only about themselves and not about the impact that they have on anyone else around them. And that selfishness is about the least Avetty thing I can think of.
It was a rainy, chilly day in Asheville, North Carolina and the Avett Guild line got started early.
But thankfully, Travis and company took pity on these brave souls and announced around 3:30pm that the Avett Guild line would be moved inside to the adjacent theater and that beginning at 4:00pm, he would hand out numbered wristbands. We could get our wristbands and then come back at 6:00pm to line up in order of number. Although he did not say so, I have to believe that this was at least partially in response to the general outcry on Friday night about line cutting behavior.
My family and I got our wristbands a little after 4:00pm (numbers #131 – #134) and then went to one of our favorite Asheville restaurants, Early Girl Eatery, to have dinner. The waitress saw my Avett hoodie and Riley’s Jim Avett t-shirt and asked if we were going to the show. Yes, we replied. “Scott Avett and his family ate here the other night and I got to wait on them!” she enthusiastically reported. “He was soooooo nice!”
Since we had seats, I left my husband and the boys to finish their dinners and went back to the theater to get in line. I got the numbered wristband because: (1) I really wanted Pete’s night 2 poster; and (2) I really wanted to see how the numbered wristband system worked out. Results: (1) I got the poster; and (2) I don’t know if elementary school students or Avett fans are more difficult to get into an orderly line, but I think the system could work out very well with a few tweaks. Here are a few pics from Avett Guild members waiting in the theater and then attempting to organize themselves into a line.
We finally figured it out, and I think it worked fairly smoothly. I was interested in how many people got Guild early entry for the poster, or the pit, or both. I was number #131 and I got poster #30. Here’s a picture of the pit after all of the Guild folks came into the venue but before regular entry began.
Sitting all the way behind the pit is a very different experience from second row behind the rail. Here’s my un-zoomed-in perspective from Friday night:
and from last night:
I can report that the lights are really really cool from the back. You really can’t appreciate the lights as well when you’re close enough to see the actual members of the band.
The Brothers (if Bonnie stays in the band, will they have to change the name?) took the stage and began with I and Love and You.
Great opener—you could tell this was a crowd that was eager to participate, and that the band was rested and ready. They launched into Die Die Die, another crowd favorite and another big sing-along. Third song was Rejects in the Attic. Thank goodness DCRANGERFAN captured it on video—it was not a song that my neighbors recognized so they thought it was a good time to chat. Loudly.
Next up was Distraction #74, another fan favorite. Everybody loves it when Bob gets to sing. That led into Will You Return, a song that I always love to hear live. Then the first repeat from Friday night—Ain’t No Man. I had spent five minutes explaining to Riley that they played Ain’t No Man on Friday night and he wouldn’t get to hear it on Saturday night. So clearly I know nothing.
Please watch the bit beginning around 1:28. Remember how on Friday night, Scott wouldn’t let the crowd take over his “he is so fine” line and waited until we were done to do it himself? So DCRANGERFAN had the camera on Seth when that part hit. Seth wasn’t watching Scott, so he started the “she is so pretty / he is so fine” with the crowd. But Scott didn’t. Scott let the crowd do it and then he did the whole thing himself. Joe clearly caught the cue but Seth didn’t. Joe and Seth’s reactions were great.
I caught Scott’s reaction when the crowd went along without him, but until I watched DCRANGERFAN’s video, I didn’t know what Joe was laughing at.
Next up was the first stunner of the evening—Through My Prayers. The last time it was played was Akron, Ohio in November 2016. I’ve gotten to hear it a couple of times live and was so happy to hear it last night.
Second stunner of the evening followed immediately—Country Blues. They haven’t played it since Paul left the band on September 3rd. Country Blues has been one of my favorite songs to hear at an Avett Brothers show, and the word that I always associated with it was “dirty.” I was worried that with Paul’s departure, I might never hear it again. Last night’s version was very very different. The stage was dark, but it appeared that it was Scott on banjo, Tania on violin, and Joe on the organ. (Someone correct me if they had a better view and I missed someone.) I have to listen to this version a few more times before I decide how I feel about it, but it did not capture me upon the first listen. Of course that may have been because my seat mates were busy discussing beer and I couldn’t hear it clearly.
Next up was Down With the Shine and then Jump in the Line. The latter is not one of my favorites, but my kids loved it and it definitely got the crowd jumping. The band has a lot of fun with that song.
That was followed by All My Mistakes, always a favorite, D Bag Rag, again, not one of my favorites but a crowd pleaser, and then You Are Mine. It did not appear to be the same arrangement that they played in St. Louis. Maybe they’re still experimenting.
That was followed by Shame and then a double-header of selections from True Sadness: Smithsonian and Victims of Life. Bonnie has been handed the all-important maracas.
Next up was Another is Waiting, which had an extended instrumental. Excellent. And then my third stunner of the evening: Pretty Girl at the Airport. I shouldn’t be stunned by it. I heard it at Red Rocks and in Atlanta. But this is only the fifth time they’ve played it this year, so to get it three out of those five times is pretty awesome I think. (Goes without saying that my seatmates did not know the song, right?)
And then Bob, Scott, and Seth assemble at the condenser mic. The banter that follows is a major reason that I love coming to Avett shows. Following their discussion of how they may move to Asheville and Seth will live in a car outside Mast General Store, primarily for their candy selection, I believe, Scott wanders off and Seth notes that “Scott is under the impression that you can actually tune a banjo.” About ten seconds or so pass, Bob and Seth keep looking back, and then Seth laughs. “Scott Avett has left the building?”
Finally Scott reappears at the end of the catwalk and launches into I Would be Sad.
Then Bob and Scott left Seth alone on the catwalk, where he noted the number of people wearing buffalo plaid in the audience. “It is very funny to me that could be a costume for my brother,” Seth said, “and that he wears it so often. Musician and lumberjack.”
We were then treated to Scott and Seth musing about his two callings and how they might deal with that. “Maybe this,” Scott started [and boy is “maybe this” a promising start to anything Scott could ever say, because the stuff he comes up with on the fly…] “maybe this, wherever we travel” anybody who needs some wood chopped could reach out on “that glowing square” [are you talking about phones, Scott?] … Seth jumped in, “you could reach out in whatever town we get to, we’ll do soundcheck and then we’ll go to wherever you are and help chop some wood.” Alright, with that settled, they played When I Drink, which Bluegrassterrapin captured from a prime position on the rail.
The full band then reassembled and launched into a passionate Talk on Indolence. They brought it down for a lovely and dramatic Hand Me Down tune (guess what? My seatmates didn’t know that one!)
And then a fiery Vanity and Kick Drum Heart, which has emerged as one of my absolute favorites to hear live, and then a swelling Morning Song to end the regular set.
During the break, my kids asked me what would be in the encore. You Don’t Know How it Feels and No Hard Feelings, I said with confidence. For the third song, I hope November Blue but I’d bet that it’ll be Salvation Song. I got two out of three. Encore began with You Don’t Know How It Feels, which was another big arena sing along.
And then they really surprised me by playing Laundry Room again. I know that many people love that song the way that I love November Blue, but I really thought it was a waste of a slot that they could have used for something else. If they need some suggestions I could come up with a list. Another surprise was a bonus encore song—The Race is On. And then, as expected, the grand finale, No Hard Feelings. It was my first time hearing No Hard Feelings after seeing May it Last. Oh how I wish I could have actually heard it. “I have no enemies,” I said to myself, “I have no enemies. Not even the drunk idiots next to me who should have gone to a bar instead of a concert.” Sadly, the nice older couple in front of me had enough of the people next to me and the also obnoxious people next to them and left when the encore began. They would have loved No Hard Feelings.
I feel a lot better about last night after going back through the set list and watching DCRANGERFAN’s videos. It was a great set list, the band sounded great and they had a lot of fun. They brought their families, and we were there with ours (“real” and Avett family). That is, after all, what we came for, whether they sing the song or not.
Next up for me will be New Year’s Eve. See you down the road.
P.s. a couple of pictures I forgot to include!