I suppose we should all be thankful that yesterday wasn’t as intensely hot as it has been recently. Still, the prospect of spending hours outside at Crossroads KC at Grinders seemed a bit grim. Thankfully, the Avett Brothers did us a bit of a favor last night and spared the audience having to sit through an opening act, jumping right into things at 8:30 p.m. with “Will You Come Again." I don’t know what the capacity at Crossroads KC is, but even at the back of the venue there was little wiggle room. There would have to be no hula activity for the summer, hula hoop girls. There just wasn't enough room.
The Avett Brothers, formed officially in 2002, have worked their way up through the years into a full-blown summer touring powerhouse with a rabidly passionate fanbase. The kind of fanbase that closes its eyes, sways, and sings the songs as loudly as possible along with the band. We are all very impressed that such fans know the band so well. That sort of thing is not irritating at all. No, not at all.
That minor annoyance aside, it’s easy to understand why fans love the band so much, particularly the live performances, which are blistering and powerful. Band namesakes Scott and Seth Avett and Joe Kwon on cello throw their bodies into the performance, giving each song everything they have physically. The brothers’ voices strain and crack and wail, before falling again into perfect harmony.
“We love it here,” Scott said to the crowd. “We will drive hundreds of miles out of our way to play in Kansas City.” The crowd lapped it up, and danced, swayed and sang through every minute of the nearly two-hour show. The venue, while incredibly full, really is fantastic for events like this. This band is meant to play outdoors, blazing heat or no. Highlights included “And It Spreads,” “Love Like the Movies,” “Colorshow,” “Kickdrum Heart,” Doc Watson’s “Blueridge Mountain Blues,” and closer “Because We Had To.” All in all, a very fine show.
Afterward, I stopped into the Brick to get my body temperature back to normal in some blessed air conditioning, and I became an immediate fan of Kansas City’s the Empty Spaces, a sassy, great retro-punk band. If you see them on a bill, do go see.