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.
Connection 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.
Connection 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.
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?