The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter show range in Amp show
October 13, 2012
Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers performs at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Thursday.
Photo | Kelly Lambert
By Mark Hughes Cobb
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals came out smoking in last night's concert, opening for the Avett Brothers at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, and quickly turned the typical order around by starting, rather than concluding, with introductions.
“Tell you what, we're gonna introduce ourselves a little bit here, because we've never been to Tuscaloosa before,” said Potter, the soul belter who fronts things, her bared legs dancing through a hot “Nothing But the Water,” the gospel-influenced title track from the band's debut independent release, in 2005.
“Up in heaven, they know the rule/you got to get down to the bathing pool” she sang, as guitarists Scout Tournet and Benny Yurco traded licks.
She ranged around folk, pop and country-ish sounds, often pushed by a driving backbeat with Potter's eclectic, expressive voice twanging with heartache, like “Parachute Heart”: “We had a skydive love affair/doomed from the very start/ So you can throw my love to the wind/I'll just float back to the ground with my parachute heart.”
All the songs they played came from fan requests, “so if you don't like the set tonight, it's your fault,” she joked. Potter finished heavy and hard, wailing on a Gibson Flying V, with singles “Paris (Ooh La La)” and “Medicine,” with the whole band pounding on the drums at one point.
The Avett Brothers, who have built a strong Tuscaloosa fan base over years of performances at the Jupiter, the Bama, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in 2006, and in last year's inaugural concert for the Amphitheater, came out rollicking with “Talk of Indolence,” and rolled from that into “Down with the Shine,” showing in quick fashion some of the strengths that have made them one of the hottest Americana bands of the past decade: Tight harmonies woven over plaintive choruses, lyrics about the search for meaning, printed out in nakedly sincere directness.
The band, led by brothers Seth and Scott Avett, with Jacob Edwards on drums and Joe Kwon on cello, was joined for the night by Paul DeFiglia on bass, with regular bandmate Bob Crawford off tour for a family emergency. Together the group managed to sound incredibly tight and yet capable of opening up, letting the air in.
At times their music bordered on pure front-porch Appalachian, such as when Scott and Seth dismissed the others and sang close harmonies into a single mike on “Winter in My Heart.” At others they roar forth with a punk-rock energy, propulsive songs crafted from mostly acoustic instruments.
They mixed some of older, better known songs such as “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” with tunes from this year's release, “The Carpenter.” But a crowd reveling in the cool October night greeted just about every riff and harmony like an old friend.
The Avetts finished the regular set as they did last year, with the crowd singing along on “I and Love and You,” before returning for an encore.