by Kim Lane
The Arkansas Music Pavilion greeted 3,054 plaid-wearing, longhaired men and women Tuesday night with a hipster-friendly setup of food trucks and beer tents — even the porta-potties were adorned with strings of café lights — and as the sun set on the crisp Fayetteville night, it was clear that all The Avett Brothers had to do was deliver. And that they did.
The band opened the show with “Distraction #74,” dominating the stage with their distinctive sound of folk, blues and rock. They followed with “Down with the Shine,” a song from their newest album “The Carpenter,” released in September. They played a number of other songs from the album including “Pretty Girl from Michigan,” “Winter in My Heart,” “Live and Die,” “I Never Knew You,” and “Paul Newman vs. the Demons.”
The album has been characterized as having many songs that deal with life and death. These weighty themes were apparent in their renditions of “Live and Die,” and “Winter in My Heart,” the latter of which was written after the band’s stand-up bassist Bob Crawford discovered that his daughter had a brain tumor.
“Pretty Girl from Michigan,” the band’s newest addition to their "Pretty Girl" series (which began in 2002 with the release of “Pretty Girl from Matthews”), was one of many place-based songs connecting the North Carolina natives to their southern roots. Among others were “Salina,” “The Prettiest Thing,” — made complete with Scott Avett on harmonica in addition to the banjo — and “Travelling Song,” the lyrics of which many concert goers sang from the heart: “Well I guess if my daddy hadn’t brought me up / Down a long dirt road in a pickup truck / I’d feel alright ‘neath the city lights.”
The band’s laid-back southern charms were apparent from the members’ ensemble of T shirts and jeans, Scott Avett’s cap and Seth Avett’s occasional sip from the coffee mug he brought on stage.
The Avett Brothers weren't shy when it came to playing crowd favorites such as “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise,” “January Wedding,” and “Famous Flower of Manhattan.” They saved “I and Love and You” for the last song before the encore, which was welcomed by fans holding three fingers in the air and counting the “three words that became hard to say” with the band.
They came back for an encore of the religious hymn “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” to the strumming of Seth’s guitar. Scott Avett responded to the silent crowd saying, “It don’t matter if you believe. If you want to sing, just sing,” which was followed by many voices joining in. “Thanks for inviting us back up here y’all, lotta love in the field tonight,” Scott said at the conclusion of the song.
Immediately afterward, the band went into a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” They finished the concert with “Talk on Indolence,” featuring Seth on the tambourine. The show ended with all the band members bowing, the brothers blowing kisses to the audience, which helplessly chanted “one more song” into the night.
See the full set list after the jump.
The Avett Brothers, Oct. 16, Arkansas Music Pavilion
1. Distraction #74
2. Down with the shine
4. Love like the movies
5. Pretty girl from Michigan
6. Winter in my heart
8. Paranoia in B flat major
9. Live and die
10. The Fall
11. Head full of doubt, road full of promise
12. Pretty girl from Matthews
13. January wedding
14. Travelling song
15. Laundry room
16. Pretty girl at the airport
17. I never knew you
18. Famous flower of Manhattan
19. The prettiest thing
20. Go to sleep
22. Paul Newman vs. the demons
23. Slight figure of speech
24. I and love and you
25. (encore) Just a closer walk with thee
26. In the aeroplane over the sea (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
27. Talk on Indolence