It was sunny when I left Vail yesterday afternoon, heading east to Red Rocks Amphitheatre to see The Avett Brothers rock Denver. But the rain started around Idaho Springs, and by the time I reached Morrison, the drops were steadily falling from the sky. The rain had me a bit worried. At an outdoor concert, wet weather can sometimes seriously damper the mood of the crowd, and while rainy skies are a fitting backdrop for some styles of music, The Avett Brothers’ uplifting brand of southern rock seems far more evocative of sunny days.
Lucero opens for The Avett Brothers on July 12th at Red Rocks
Memphis-based country/rock group Lucero kicked off the evening with some fun, jamming tunes. Umbrellas were out, but many concert-goers were dancing as the amphitheatre became increasingly packed. While Lucero’s set was definitely enjoyable, anticipation was clearly high for the main event. Personally, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love The Avett Brothers’ classic hits, but had never seen them live before and am not as big a fan of some of their newer songs. Additionally, last night’s performance was the middle show of three at Red Rocks for The Avett Brothers’ and I heard a few of my fellow audience members complaining about Friday night’s set. Apparently the band had focused on newer music that seemed, to many of their long-time fans, to be overly-simplified and over-produced.
The opening Saturday night number didn’t do much to assuage these doubts. It was a new piece I hadn’t heard before, and while certainly fun to dance to and in no way unenjoyable, it was also nothing special. I can also be fairly resistant to change when it comes to my favorite bands, and The Avett Brothers had apparently added a new member that neither I nor any of my friends recognized – some random girl on a fiddle. But then, the first song ended and the real fun began, with The Avett Brothers launching straight into the best version of “Die Die Die” followed by the best version of “Shame” I have ever heard (on both recordings and videos of other live performances). The energy in the amphitheatre was amazing, with the whole crowd excitedly singing and dancing along, rain almost entirely forgotten. In fact, it wasn’t long before I had to remove my raincoat, as it was hindering my dancing abilities. Plus, the “random girl on a fiddle” turned out to be Grammy nominee Tania Elizabeth. She has been touring with The Avett Brothers since last fall, and her fiddle parts definitely contributed to making some of my old favorites even more awesome.
The fun, uplifting energy in the crowded amphitheatre persisted as the show progressed. Huge cheers went up before and after every amazing number, as well as whenever the lyrics mentioned rain (which was far more than I realized). About halfway through the show, I found myself needing to use the bathroom, but held it for longer than was probably healthy since the last thing I wanted to do was leave the crowd. Clearly I was not the only one who felt that way, as when I did eventually run to the bathroom, the line was basically nonexistent, and it took me no time at all to return to dancing. I did not stop grinning the entire time.
The Avett Brothers take the stage for a stellar performance at Red Rocks on Saturday
Overall, the evening turned out to be one of the most fun concert experiences I have had in a while. The rain, if anything, made it even better, providing a cooling mist to prevent us from overheating due to exuberant dancing. I’ve always loved The Avett Brothers’ music, but I can’t believe it took me this long to see them live. Next time I have the opportunity to attend one of their shows, I will definitely be first in line!