Show Review – The Avett Brothers, 9/30/12, White River State Park, Indianapolis, IN


Written By: Mark Loveless
Edited By: Ben Pangburn/ Ryan Neeley
Photos By Mark Loveless

It was apparent as Seth and Scott Avett took stage on Sunday night that Indianapolis was in for a memorable evening. Since receiving the AMA Emerging Artist Award in 2007, The Avett Brothers continue to progress more each year. The group takes a bit of bluegrass and adds a twang of southern roots rock ‘n roll with a twist of British Invasion and little pinch of punk. It would like taking pop legend, Buddy Holly twisted with the harmony of The Beatles with raw energy from the Ramones and some down home American Texas country-folk music from Townes Van Zandt. Coming off their most recent album The Carpenter, which was ranked number 4 on Billboard’s Top 200, the band has become a bit louder. As Seth notes, “we grew up during the 90’s with Nirvana and Soundgarden. We have always had loudness deep-rooted within us.” Just listen to Scott and Seth’s band Nemo from the late 90’s to see what he’s talking about.

“It’s nice to release a new album and have all the hoop-la, but it’s nice to be connecting with a crowd. This is what feels real for us,” Seth Avett says1[1]. As Seth and Scott opened with the duet “Shame” off their self entitled album  Emotionalism, they connected with the crowd. The women especially opened with an “uncontrollable bellowing shriek” at the brothers. At first I thought I was about to witness a Tom Jones concert, where women start throwing their panties on the stage.  From “Shame,” the band went straight into a new song, “I Never Knew You.” For a recent release, the studious crowd did a sing-along with the band as if it was an old favorite. The crowd was very diverse, from younger crowd of twenty-something to mid forties and The Avett Brothers brought a slew of different genres of music to the stage to please every age group. The band and crowd got a little rowdy as Seth and Scott tore up the stage with a dual acoustic jam from another new release, “Paul Newman vs. The Demons.” You could feel the intensity from the crowd as they were swaying back and forth with a bit of foot-stomping. Joe Kwon, who adds a lot of depth to the band, definitely helped keep the energy high as he shredded the cello like Johnny Ramone on the electric guitar. The band continued the night playing crowd favorites such as “Love Like the Movies,” “January Wedding,” and “Slight Figure of Speech.” The band finished their set with “Old Joe Clark” a single from Live, Volume 2 (Live). Although only played for a little over a dozen times live by The Avett Brothers, it has been a welcome addition to this year’s setlists. It’s an old folk, mountain ballad originally sung by soldiers during World War I about a man by the name Joe Clark, a mountaineer that was murdered in 1885. This classic was released in 1915 and has been sung by the legends like Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and Cowan Powers and his Family Band. As the band departed backstage, the crowd cheered for more raw bluegrass music as they chanted “We want more, we want more…”

The Avett Brothers, known for their beautiful lyrical songs, returned to the stage for the encore, a stunningly written piece originally performed by the Indie Rock band Neutral Milk Hotel called “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” a song that many fans believe is about Anne Frank. As the band concluded the night of entertainment they would be joined with their father, Jim Avett for a traditional gospel song “Down by the Riverside” along with a beautiful melody aptly named “Salvation Song.”

The Avett Brothers show in Indianapolis was polished yet loose – Both the young and the old, new fans and veterans walked off  into the night air with a newfound love affair with one of bluegrass and folks top act and memories to last a lifetime.

Setlist: Shame, I Never Knew You, Down with the Shine, At the Beach, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Paul Newman vs The Demons, Winter in My Heart, Paranoia in Bb Major, Salina, Love Like the Movies, February Seven, Pretty Girl from Chile, Through My Prayers, When I Drink, Distraction #74, January Wedding, November Wedding, Slight Figure of Speech, The Prettiest Thing*, Live and Die, Go to Sleep, Laundry Room, Old Joe Clark

Encore: Talk of Indolence, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea**, Down by the Riverside^, Salvation Song^


Notes: *The Prettiest Thing (David Childers and The Modern Don Juans cover) **In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel) ^with Jim Avett

[1] Kohler, Cassidy. “The Avett Brothers Live at the Fox Theater 9/29/12: Review and Setlist.” Riverfront Times. September 29, 2012. October 2, 2012. <>