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Review: Rain doesn’t dampen fans’ spirits at Avett Brothers concert

July 18th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Review and photos by Max Parker Dahl

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a steady rain, and the Mosaic regulation of Sabbath observance for the majority population, an appreciative and mature crowd gathered to hear something unusual: A sincere pair of folk acts in a musical climate of auto-tuned synth-pop, in a park nestled between high-rises in downtown Salt Lake.

The diversity of the crowd could be gauged by their choice in footwear. Punks in Doc Marten boots, granolas in Chacos, middle-management middle-agers in hiking boots, housewives in cross-trainers, and me, in my prized Deseret Industries find –- a weathered pair of white temple shoes.

Jessica Lea Mayfield possessed a meekness and sound quality that projected a ‘psychadelic-folk’ sound. Her vibrant pink hair was less Nicki Minaj bubble gum, more punk rock –- I’m picturing Chris Conley of Saves the Day –- or a lawn flamingo. The echoing feedback of disconnected grunts of guitar work and industrial harmonies seemed brave, like putting Dolly Parton at the microphone at an Alice in Chains concert. They had a smattering of Americana, playing stereotypes out in their outfits and lyrics. It was admirable, without being memorable. Much like Jewel songs, that seem to blend tracks and ideas together.

Mayfield has been celebrated as one of the hot-ticket new artists, but I couldn’t get into the groove of her music. I like all the genres and influences she is pulling from, but would need an intimate immersive period before I got it. Without pretending to be the end-all opinion for what’s what in music today, I believe I have a decent ear. Mayfield’s music got me so ADHD trying to categorize and relate to it, that I lost the enjoyment of letting it exist. Perhaps I am inclined to reach for optimism in my music. Mayfield is melancholy at best, depressing and reclusive at par.

The Avett Brothers were prompt in their entrance to the stage, and without much presumption. They took stage with faith that things were tuned and prepared. They played a majority of their 2009 I and Love and You, and blasted crowd pleasers from their prior efforts. The energy from the crowd, their dancing and singing and laughing, combined with the group on stage was enough to drive away the rain.

“I’m certain you brought the sunshine,” said Seth Avett. “It looks like afternoon out there,” he said as 9 p.m. rolled around.

There is a reason The Avett Brothers have three volumes of live performances, and people like me continue to buy them.

Brothers Seth and Scott have a raw quality in their performance –- strained voices from touring, energy from the content of their songs, involuntary movements, improvisational additions –- and having bassist Bob Crawford take a crack at verses in various songs made the crowd frenzied and glad to be where they were, with the people they cared about.

The venue was accommodating, with artisan pizza and Mexican drafts. There were several moments of mind-numbing feedback, but the audio otherwise was excellent. The Gallivan has a diverse spread of talent, eager to tap every market. I’m amused at a venue holding events for Adele, Slightly Stoopid, and Willie Nelson in the same summer season. The grass was intact despite the mixture of dancing and jumping and precipitation. I wasn’t pleased with people’s tarps and blankets pushing the crowd outward and backward, because the energy also crammed people into the seams of unclaimed, un-blanketed space.

Overall, it was an excellent concert at an excellent venue. Security regulated umbrellas and lawn-chairs, and no disturbances beyond the brief rain interrupted the experience.


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  1. One Response to “Review: Rain doesn’t dampen fans’ spirits at Avett Brothers concert”

  2. By Dan Smith on Jul 18, 2011

    “Mosaic regulation of Sabbath observance for the majority population”? I like the artsy attempt at describing the fact that Mormons don’t go to concerts on Sundays, but is the reference to the Law of Moses accurate? I like the ethos that Dahl commands in his music reviews – well done. Just one more question: Does wearing Chacos make you a granola?

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