Last night was the perfect date concert at Red Rocks. The heat forced people to drink copious amounts and wear very little. The natural romance of the setting was out in force, with the lights against the rock reaching up to an almost-full moon. And then there was the music. And it was a night for the instruments. Sure, there were the requisite guitars, keyboards, drums, bass...but there were also banjos, cellos and violins, all being utilized to the fullest by musicians who don't just know their tools well, but seemed to honestly love to bring out the full sound of each -- and to sometimes pound the crap out of them like they were Colfax hookers. The Avett Brother's cello bow bore little resemblance to the refined bows from Devotchka -- it was more like Sunday morning walk-of-shame hair.
The Avett Brothers opened with "Talk on Indolence," which brought the crowd to its feet right away. You could feel the energy in the place change instantly -- from the slow draw of DeVotchKa, which everyone appreciated in that swaying-slowly sort of way, to the rowdy electricity of the Avetts.
The band kept the energy up for most of the early show, rocking out in such a country-style that people were literally do-si-do-ing in the crowded aisles. But it wasn't all countrified; the Avetts jumped up and down at the mike like the Bay City Rollers (that's right -- the Bay City Rollers), and Scott Avett was, at one point, on his knees playing the banjo, which is just wicked cool.
It was during "Kick Drum Heart" that the crowd seemed to explode into a big massive pile of love, from the hugs one of the brothers came down to give to everyone in the front rows, to the folks walking the aisles with boots, collecting donations for those affected by the Colorado wildfires (they raised more than $20,000 on Friday night, and encouraged Saturday night's crowd to surpass that).
Of course, not all love is requited. During "Colorshow," there were a significant number of couples consisting of girls singing the lyrics "it's you and me forever" while staring expectantly up into the glassy eyes of their in-the-bag boyfriends who just wanted to rock out, man. But this actually worked out nicely for the men, at least temporarily, since their disappointed girlfriends then sat down dejected, and left them more room for the aforementioned rocking out. How things went for these couples post-show is pure speculation (but it's probably not good.)
Midway through the show, the band reminded the crowd that they're actually brothers, and not in band-name only, by bringing out some of their family for an old-time gospel singalong. Their father and sister sang backup to "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," and even if you're only Sunday-religious, you had to admit it was purty.
The Avetts saved "I and Love and You" for late in the show; it was a must-play, of course, since it's the group's biggest hit to date, but it did mute the frenetic pace a bit. Still the crowd loved it, singing along happily while fireworks appeared over Coors Field in the distance. That, combined with the moon and the rocks and the music and the crowd, proved what the Avetts said toward the end of the night -- that Red Rocks is "a magical place...but it's not half as magical when you guys aren't here to share it with us."
Personal Bias: I have a banjo fetish.
Random Detail: A ton of fans said Saturday's show was better than Friday night's show.
By the Way: If you want to get a massive reaction from the crowd at Red Rocks just insert Colorado or Red Rocks into your song lyrics. They love that shit.
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