The Avett Brothers—the ‘Breaking Bad’ of Live Music

Formal Opening: This esteemed, academic discussion will argue that The Avett Brothers are to live music as Breaking Bad is to television drama: elevating the craft and challenging the accepted paradigm through optimal songwriting and storytelling, employing a diverse range of genres, effectively executing dynamically positioned theatricality.

Relaxed Opening: I saw The Avett Brothers for the first time last night, and they were freakin’ awesome!

And It Spread

The Avett Brothers made a stop here in Rochester to promote their new album, Magpie and the Dandelion; however, brothers and co. primarily performed older material from Emotionalism and I and Love and You.

SIDE NOTE: The latter album is one of my all-time favorites.

I was absolutely floored by The Avett Brothers performance. It was energetic yet peaceful, sloppy yet refined, indulgent yet restrained, elevated yet humble. It was everything.

My eyes and ears were glued to the stage (not literally). I couldn’t turn away. They played for over two hours; honestly, I could have had two more. Their “hits” were wonderful, but it was their covers, their unknown oldies, and their updated renditions that kept my full-attention throughout the evening. I never knew quite what was coming.

As I stood, swayed, and danced, I couldn’t shake the odd feeling of familiarity. Finally it hit me. Watching The Avett Brothers was like watching Breaking Bad. To prove my point, here’s some connections.

Tight, Tight, Ti, Ti, Tight!

Connection Number 1: Unpredictability & Mariachi. For me, what made Breaking Bad so fun to watch was never quite knowing what to expect. Anything, it seemed, could happen. Even a mariachi music video cold-open could happen.

Last night, The Avett Brothers performed Pretty Girl From Chile. The song in itself is a testament to their diverse background but also their dedication to the unpredictable. “Pretty Girl,” if you don’t know, is a three-part epic, mariachi rock song, and it was placed between a violin-acoustic guitar jam and a cover of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” So awesome.

breaking-badConnection Number 2: Sincerity & Relation. Breaking Bad was at times elevated beyond a realistic world, sure; in small doses I think it worked. For me, BB was best when grounded in reality. Without Vince Gilligan’s signature strong and adaptive character arcs, I doubt the show would’ve made it past season 2.

The Avett Brothers, on the same hand, performed in sincerity. They’re one of the few acts who have made me feel like I was more important than they were. They made me feel as if I was more than an everyday consumer feeding their unending ego (oh, like so many bands mistakingly do!). It’s hard to put into words what I mean here. Maybe you just have to see them.

Connection Number 3: Talent & Execution. There were times during BB where I felt as if I would never see a better performance on television ever again. The “laughing” scene and the “box-cutter” scene immediately come to mind. The writing, producing, and directing teams also often performed at their best (the entirety of Season 1, perhaps).

Without talent and effective execution, entertainment techniques like genre-blending and broad dynamic shifts can come across as insincere and gimmicky. The Avett Brothers, like the BB team, have an incredible pool of talent to stand behind every crazy scene, act, and song. My favorite Avett moments, especially, were the “hoedown” bluegrass jams, the rock n’roll (almost metal) endings, and the quiet, acoustic-led, harmony-heavy songs. All of it worked.

photoConnection Number 4: It ruined everything else. After BB ended, I tried watching other shows, I did. But TV was ruined. Where was the attention to detail?, the dynamic shifts?, the talent? Pretty much, Breaking Bad killed TV because nothing else (I’ve yet seen) can match its quality.

After The Avett Brothers performance, I made sure and bought a concert poster. I had to mark the occasion: the day I wouldn’t be able to see any other band live. Thanks, guys.

Worth it.

Connection Number 5: I started smoking meth. I’m kidding. Have a good day. Thanks for reading!

Have you seen The Avett Brothers? What did you think? Any other music experiences that relate?

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Further Reading: Songs to Get You through Winter

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11 comments

  1. I have wanted to see the Avett Brothers live. They were in my city in the Fall, but I was working and couldn’t go and was quite disappointed. Your review makes me really want to go see them if they ever come back, though!

  2. I have seen the Avett Brothers in Colorado (Red Rocks twice!), North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri (3 night run in STL) and New York (3 times).

    This band is a game changer for me. Each show is incredible and unique in it’s own way. Each time I leave wanting more. Hence why I travel all over to see them.

    I’ll cherish the friends i’ve made along the way, and the experiences and memories created.

    Not only are they incredible songwriters and performers, they are great natured people, and do many charitable deeds. Look no further then the connection between them and St. Jude children’s hospital. Look up the story of bass player Bob Crawford’s daughter Hallie.

    To anyone reading this who hasn’t seen them in person… correct it as soon as you can. Go see a show. Or two. Or ten.

    You won’t regret it.

  3. I have seen them 9 times in concert. Each time I come away with a feeling of spiritual renewal. I agree that after seeing them in concert, no other show will ever compare.

  4. They are the best live band I’ve ever seen. They come across as genuine, authentic people who truly love what they do. I’ve seen them many times and have had a blast at every show.

  5. I have seen the Avett Brothers 7 times and the experience gets better with each concert. This last time Old Crow Medicine Show opened and they were amazing. They did some songs together and I was blown away. I, too, travel to see them because the experience is just that good! I don’t know of any band that compares to them performing live and their library of music is endless.

  6. I’ve seen them more times than I’ll admit here. What I love most is the sincerity. Their songs and their performances are honest and open. They leave it all on the stage every single night and then they come out for an encore and give us some more. Scott and Seth obviously have a kinship, but it’s also evident between the rest of the band. The Avett Brothers aren’t just Scott and Seth. The Avett Brothers are Bob, Joe, Paul, and Mike, too.

    And I’m so glad you bought the poster! So many of us are still searching for out elusive “first show” print.

  7. They have totally ruined everything else for me and I’m totally okay with that. Just finished up shows 12 and 13 last weekend. I wont stop until they do. They are my boys, I love them sincerely. #saylove

  8. Show #11 last night in Boston following the Portland show on Monday night 🙂 The boys never disappoint….whether they are performing in an all night downpour in Bangor, or on beautifully clear evenings at Red Rocks.

  9. I’ve only seen the Avett Brothers on Youtube and I can only imagine how amazing they would be live. I am captivated by their charisma and bowled over by their storytelling. Definitely my favorite group going these days.

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