The Avett Brothers Turned Gexa Into a Country Hoedown Saturday Night

The blustery backdrop at the Avett Brothers show was contrast to the hot, sweaty dancing that filled the night.
The blustery backdrop at the Avett Brothers show was contrast to the hot, sweaty dancing that filled the night.
Jackie Marie Brown

The Avett Brothers
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Saturday, June 18, 2016

On Saturday night, the Avett Brothers used every bit of their North Carolina roots and hellbent-leather-explosiveness to whip their Dallas fans into a steamy,  hour-and-a-half-long frenzy at Gexa Energy Pavilion. 

Scott and Seth Avett, front and center, were flanked by bassist Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon and violinist Tania Elizabeth. Kazoos were placed firmly in their mouths as they strummed out the peppy and delightful instrumental "D Bag Rag." And as they tossed their plastic instruments into the crowd, a blast of flashing red and white poured over the crowd and Seth broke in to the violent rap intro of "Talk on Indolence" which sent the crowd — which was already rocking — well and truly reeling.

The brothers then reeled the crowd back in with slower, sadder songs like "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promises," before new hit single "Ain’t No Man" (off their soon-to-be released ninth album, True Sadness) and "Distraction #74," off their 2006 Four Thieves Gone, stirred them right back up. That was followed up with the spooky cello sound of "Salina" and the garrulous guitarrón mexicano of yet-to-be-released track "Victims of Life."

It was like the Avetts were expertly fishing, letting the hook sink deeper with every swoon-worthy tune before reeling back hard with pounding kick drums, Scott’s wild banjo, Seth’s raw guitar and the dual sawing of Kwon and Elizabeth. Audience members went from wildly hooting and hollering to slow dancing down the aisles, shrinking the half-empty amphitheater and condensing the band’s energy even further.

With the night quickly becoming a blur, the band paired down to three members and then just one as Seth played "The Ballad of Love and Hate" and "Live and Die" solo. Couples came closer, as the frantic movements of before gave way to the soft swaying of bodies, as the band prepared to pick back up for the crescendo.

Crawford’s demon bass ripped through the hoe-down sound of "Satan Pulls the Strings" and the lyrics of "Laundry Room" came out sweet and soft, before the band got back to business. The whole band belted out George Jones’ "The Race is On" and their new album’s title track, before reveling in the controlled chaos of Dashboard Confessional drummer Mike Marsh’s energetic solo.

The sticks seemed to get away from Marsh as he hit more than a few sour notes, but it only served to highlight the breakneck speed of "Slight Figure of Speech," which featured another of Seth’s spasmodic rap refrains alongside Scott as the two traded lines back and forth with ease. The momentum suddenly vanished and the soulful "Hand-Me-Down Tune" sent the show into its final inning and the band took a breather.

Fans seemed to know every word and occasionally kept better time than the band, but it was only a testament to how powerful the Avett brothers’ songs can be. And it probably didn’t hurt that there was, as Seth Avett put it, “A lot of love in the room tonight.”

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