Review: Avett Brothers on The Lawn 

The Avett Brothers, Truth & Salvage Co.
The Lawn at White River State Park, Oct. 1
4.5 stars

As the Avett Brothers powered through what will be remembered as one of the best shows to hit Indianapolis in 2011, the band put on display an all-too-rare ability to take the recorded version of songs to a higher musical level on stage.

Seth and Scott Avett's North Carolina voices — ringing and true, forceful and elegant — cut through the 40-degree night air, hitting hard before a 7,500-person audience. The crowd knew the words to the songs, roaring and singing to a set evenly paced with rockers and ballads.

The Avett's opening salvo — "Go to Sleep" and "The Fall" — saw band members bouncing, swaying and stomping the stage, taking the audience into their music and drinking in crowd's energy. "Shame" turned into an anthem — many of their best songs sound anthemic — with a twist on the recorded arrangement.

The Avett Brothers have mastered the art of tension and release. Think Arcade Fire. Or Springsteen. "Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise" was one of the early highlights, powered by radio familiarity and a band that just killed it.

Known for mixing up the setlist each night, Indianapolis heard a show that was equal parts arena and living room. The relative rarity "I Would Be Sad" lyrics hit painfully and perfectly. The neo-bluegrass of "Laundry Room", a joyful and guttural "Kick Drum Heart", a breathtaking "Colorshow" and the deserved hit "I and Love and You" closed the regular set.

A three-song encore included a true-but-different cover of the Rolling Stones' "Angie" and "Talk on Indolence," which charged forward with flat-out punk energy, concluding the 105-minute show with Ramones-ish pizazz.

Truth & Salvage Co. opened with a 45-minute set of roots rock, sparked by the lush and ragged harmonies of "Hail, Hail," the Midwest mid-tempo gem "Heart Like a Wheel" (by Indiana's Tim Jones) and the deceptively-melancholic "Old Piano." "Call Me" connected with the early crowd, and "Pure Mountain Angel" let the boys show of their five-part harmonies.

A band that thrives in the sweaty clubs, Truth & Salvage Co. nicely brought a good bit of that rebel energy to the more cavernous setting. They return to Indy to open for JJ Grey and Mofro at The Vogue Nov. 4.

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Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols

A music writer for more than 30 years, Rob began as a rock radio jock at age 17. Born in central Indiana, Rob moved north and spent his college years in Hillsdale, Michigan. That meant traveling to Detroit for all the good rock shows, and explains his affinity for Seger, the J. Geils Band, and Mitch Ryder. He's... more

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