I arrived at HullabaLOU with my first stop being the Avett Brothers on the Main Stage -- a band that I've just been getting familiar with. I was looking forward to seeing them in person because I think you really get to know a band by seeing them perform live. Maybe I'm naive, but I was expecting to be able to get a little closer than Millionaire's Row. Now that probably sounds ungrateful when you consider the digs and the AC and all, but I was so far removed from the scene that I felt disoriented. If I'm not dodging an enthusiastic dancer next to me, who's sloshing beer and flashing the international rock-on hand signal to the band, am I really there?
To the naked eye, they were ant-sized (my pictures were the best I could do with the zoom). I could see them on the monitors inside, which was cool, but it's like reviewing a band you're watching on Austin City Limits from your sofa. Okay, enough whining about that.
When I finally settled down to the situation, I could see that they played with a lot of energy, which was even more impressive considering the blistering heat at that hour and the fact that they were playing to a lot of empty seats. Fans filled in a little bit as the set went on, but I couldn't help thinking they would have been better served by playing one of the infield stages.
I'm a sucker for bands with cellists and Joe Kwon was a real treat, rocking out with a little punk flair. All are solid musicians -- Bob Crawford on the stand-up bass, Scott on banjo and Seth on guitar (the latter two being the actual brothers Avett). Luckily, even from the heady heights of the sixth floor, the sound was pretty good, and the brothers' voices managed to project all the directness and honesty of their song lyrics at a distance. I particularly enjoyed the power ballad "I and Love and You" and the soulful --and soul-searching-- "Headful of Doubt." I will definitely look forward to seeing them in a more "intimate" venue where I don't need a telescope to see the performance.
L to R: Kwon, Crawford, Scott, and Seth Avett