So last night I took four Advil, and Kate and I went up to see the Avett Brothers in Knoxville. Unbeknownst to us, Edie was there with her oldest child, too! We didn’t see her, because there were way too many people, but we had a fabulous time. I didn’t get floor tickets because I didn’t want to be responsible for Kate getting crushed at her first concert, and even though it would have been a blast on the floor, being sick I was soooo glad we had seats.

First, I have to brag that in the parking lot, the guy told me to back in. Now I learned to drive in Cresbard, South Dakota, population 200, stoplights 0. There’s no need to back in to spaces, parallel park, or any other sort of fancy driving there, so basically I’m the person who will park six blocks away and walk rather than parallel park or back into a space. However, I did back into the space, and I even made it between the lines. Success!


backed in

We had so much fun, Kate and I. Here’s the thing about the Avett Brothers: they’re actually good singers. They sing just as well live (if not perhaps better, because they’re putting on a show) than in the studio. There’s no need to fix up their voices in the studio because they can hold a tune in real life. Scott has the deeper, grittier voice and Seth’s voice is buttery smooth, making it sound so easy. They’re distinct and fabulous individually, and together make gorgeous harmonies.

It seemed to us that Scott had some sort of cold, as he gulped water the entire concert, his voice was sort of cracky and gravelly, and Seth did a bigger portion of the singing, but even still it was absolutely fantastic. They’re so versatile, jumping from guitar to banjo to piano to drums to harmonica to electric guitar, and singing nearly perfectly all the while.

(I should note at this point that my musically snobbish/classic pianist parents would be rolling over in their graves were they in their graves, and since they’re not I’m probably inching them there sooner with this post.)


My beautiful date.

The other thing about the band is you notice right away they have a LOT of really loyal fans. Everyone sings every lyric to every song, not just the “good” ones. Because really, nearly all of their songs are good. I can’t even pick a favorite, though they played tons of my favorites last night, including Slight Figure of Speech, February 7, Go to Sleep, Life, Paranoia in B Major, Live and Die, and the kids’ very best favorite, Kick Drum Heart. (Jonathan loves that song so much, and every time we get to the part where Seth screams instead of sings, he makes his voice all gravelly and he roars out, “Kick Drum, Kick Drum.” I tried for the umpteenth time to get him doing it on video and was moderately successful this time. About 2 minutes in, he finally sort of does it.)

The only one I didn’t get to hear and really wanted to was Sanguine, but really, no complaints. Around 6 p.m. last night I was considering just crawling into bed and skipping out, but I’m so glad I took the Advil and persevered. It was absolutely worth it.


Kate is gorgeous as always. I look like I feel…sick.

Here’s Kate’s video of February 7. She took some others, but this is one of my favorites.

And here’s a professional version of Live and Die, another favorite. “You rejoice, I complain, but you and I, we’re the same” is totally Derek and me.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain why I like the band so much, and I think it’s because if you really listen to the lyrics, they talk about so many big, heavy, weighty, beautiful things, and they seem to really get it, with “it” being the Christian life, in this world, but not of this world. The Weight of Lies is about creating an image of yourself and running away when it inevitably breaks. Ill With Want is about materialism. Live and Die is about choosing to make a relationship work. Slight Figure of Speech is a clever stringing together of cliches to tell the story of how the band went from nobodies to famous. Winter in My Heart talks about depression–“I don’t know what the reasons are.” Down with the Shine is a stand against glorification of physical youth. Murder in the City is about who and what’s important when it comes down to it. Sanguine asks for contentment. Life, which was the last song they played last night before the encore, made me tear up as I listened. It’s about how life is short–“we’re not of this world for long…we will never be”–and about how even though there’s a tension between the sinful world–“Oh, and you and I know all too well about the hell in paradise right here on earth”–there is hope in heaven.

One comes of it
Love it, love it
Let go of it
Love comes from it
We’re not of this world for long

Faith and promise keep me honest
When starvation falls upon us
Daylight told me he would be

Gone with cold words
Spoke among hers
Wretched in the tongue of their world
We’re not of that world at all
We will never be

Wouldn’t it be fine to stand
Behind the words we say in the best of times
Oh, and you and I know all too well
About the hell in paradise
Right here on Earth

Keep it, use it
Build it, move it
Planes can touch our time will prove it
Watch us fly as loud we can
Let her heartbeat change what I am now

Wouldn’t it be fine to stand
Behind the words we say
In the best of times
Oh, and you and I know all too well
About the hell in paradise
Right here on Earth

We let Kate sleep in this morning after the late night, and she was fretting over what to put as her tardy excuse. I said, “Overslept” or “Feeling sick.” Derek said “Went to once in a lifetime Avett Brothers concert last night and stayed up too late but it was totally worth it.” Err, that won’t fit on one excuse line, even if it’s true.