Earnestness is sometimes sneered at in popular music. For some, it will never be cool to care. But the Avett Brothers transcend that notion; they’re cool precisely because they care so much.
Sunday night at the Bank of America Pavilion, that care was evident in nearly every note of the group’s rhapsodic performance before one of the summer’s most fervent audiences.
The venue wasn’t quite sold out, but you’d never have known it from the volume and frequency of ovations and singalongs that erupted during the course of the two-hour-plus show whose sole throughline was boundless energy.
The Avett Brothers
The cheers rang out regardless of vintage, style, or mood as the onstage sextet — the core trio of bass player Bob Crawford and band namesake brothers and multi-instrumentalists Scott and Seth Avett, bolstered by a touring trio on drums, keyboards, and cello — moved from intimate acoustic confessions to swinging country jaunts to ramshackle roots-punk shoutfests both old and new.
The group performed nearly 30 songs. Some were short and sweet pop-inflected affairs like the winsome swinger “Live and Die,” from the group’s just released new album “The Carpenter.”
Some were epic rockers that deliciously threatened to careen out of control on waves of attack-strum guitar or warped cello riffs or maniacal vocal flights — the pinnacle of this was the boom crash coda of “Kick Drum Heart.”
Others still were tightly wound models of instrumental and harmonic precision as the Avetts raised their voices in seamless conjunction and their auxiliary players located the sweet spot between inspiration and reverence.
In addition to their hyper-giddy energy (Scott and Seth are particularly active leg stompers and loose-legged boogiemen) and instrumental prowess, it was the vocals that pierced most deeply. Whether it’s intuition, blood ties, luck, lots of practice, or all of the above, they achieved a special vocal synergy on tunes like “Down With the Shine” and the devastating “When I Drink” that went beyond the fraternal and entered the realm of the spiritual.