The Avett Brothers Bring ‘True Sadness’ to Portsmouth
On Friday, August 12, the Avett Brothers returned to Portsmouth after over two years, treating those in attendance at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion to a show unlike any before. Following the release of their newest album, “True Sadness,” the North Carolinians brought the party to Hampton Roads with rolling banjo riffs and pulsing kick drums.
Although brothers Scott and Seth have made music together their entire lives, the band has expanded since their official formation in 2000. Growing from just the brothers and longtime friend Bob Crawford, the band now features seven members, including fiddle player Tania Elizabeth, as well as former Dashboard Confessional drummer Mike Marsh.
Unlike past performances in the area, the Avetts opted to skip an opening act, allowing them to play for over two hours. Taking the stage, the band waved to the crowd and dove right into “D-Bag Rag,” a bluegrass inspired medley featuring kazoos. Faultlessly transitioning, the musicians began fan favorite “Talk on Indolence” encouraging anyone who wasn’t already fully amped to scream the fast-paced lyrics with the boys on stage.
Fans of all ages were drawn together for the evening and could be seen singing every lyric to each song. ODU Monarch Jillian Harvey was in attendance and said, “These guys are even better live than they are recorded.”
While “True Sadness” has been warmly received, the brothers stayed true to their fans, playing a mix of tunes from all of their nine full-length records. Shedding most of their instruments, the brothers began to stomp and clap as Crawford played the distinct bass line from their new hit single, “Ain’t No Man,” one of only four songs that would be played from the latest album.
Experts in young love and heartbreak, the brothers slowed down the pace and played “Laundry Room,” prompting couples to sway together. The tempo was soon brought back up as the band started “I Killed Sally’s Lover.” Scott sang of revenge and rigorously plucked his banjo as Seth ran around stage strumming out a quick chord progression as the audience jumped in the pit below.
Catching the crowd off guard, Seth played “January Wedding,” a song about his first marriage that is rarely performed since his separation in 2013. Surprised fans looked around at each other to confirm that this was really happening before happily singing along.
Skipping much of the typical chatter between songs, Scott and Seth made sure to thank the crowd for their continued support, reminding them that Virginia is one of their favorite states. As cellist Joe Kwon began the riff of “Go to Sleep,” this was reaffirmed when Scott substituted the normal song lyrics for, “I hope the beautiful people of Virginia will understand,” motivating fans to cheer out their adoration. Gentle piano keys commenced, and the brothers performed “I and Love and You” before thanking the crowd and waving goodbye.
Hungry for more, the audience wouldn’t say goodbye that easily. Loud cheering and demands for an encore echoed through the venue, and the group re-emerged. “We would love to play some more for you,” Scott said. Before starting “The Prettiest Thing,” a song by David Childers, Scott explained that playing this cover was a special request. “Morning Song” came next and was gladly received by the crowd.
Concluding the three-song encore, the Avetts finished with “No Hard Feelings,” with Seth singing of how perhaps he will “run into a savoir true and shake hands laughing,” after his body will not “hold him anymore.” Bidding a final farewell, all seven members of the band threw set lists into the audience and bowed to say goodbye as they were met with an eruption of applause.