MORGANTOWN -- There was plenty of jumping on the court of The Coliseum on the campus of West Virginia University last week, but not for a basketball game.
Instead, it was a packed house that bounced and sang along with The Avett Brothers during the band's stop in Morgantown.
The North Carolina-grown band -- known for their particular brand of folk with a punk rock edge -- powered through a more than two-hour, career-spanning set that offered moments of high energy and quiet reflection. After opening with "Open Ended Life" from 2013s "Magpie and the Dandelion", brothers Seth and Scott Avett, along with bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon, got the large crowd involved with a singalong prior to 2007s "Go To Sleep".
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
Scott and Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers perform Feb. 27 at The Coliseum on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown.
There was no resting after that, as the Avetts rocked their way through foot stompers "Gimmeakiss" and "I Killed Sally's Lover" before closing out the first half of the set with an extended intro to "Colorshow".
Taking full advantage of the large space inside The Coliseum, Seth and Scott Avett took turns on solo numbers at the end of the stage runway, accompanied by a single spotlight and acoustic guitar. The crowd was quiet enough to hear a pin drop as Scott Avett worked his way through "Murder in the City", cheering only after Avett sang the words, "I wondered what my dad would say/He said, 'I love you and I'm proud of you both/In so many different ways'." That quietness continued while Seth Avett performed "The Ballad of Love and Hate", with the crowd only interrupting after Avett made an off-the-cuff remark on indifference in relationships.
The second half of the set was much more reserved, including a cover of David Childers' "The Prettiest Thing" and intense versions of "February Seven" and "If It's The Beaches".
The band -- also joined on stage by drummer Mike Marsh and pianist Paul Defiglia -- burned through the down-home bluegrass stomper "Talk on Indolence" before closing the main portion of their set with the earnest "I and Love and You".
It didn't take much to bring them back to the stage, however, for an encore featuring "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" and "Hard Worker". In a nod to the West Virginia-crowd -- which Seth Avett was quick to point out has always been supportive of the band -- the group was joined by show openers Old Crow Medicine Show for a banjo-heavy version of John Denver's "(Take Me Home) Country Roads" that would have been cliche if not for the genuine energy and appreciation from both bands.
The aforementioned Old Crow Medicine Show brought headliner-like stage presence to the opening slot, with a full-on attack of banjos and fiddles. The crowd was more than accepting of the opener, especially during current-Top 40 hit "Wagon Wheel".
In between breakdowns, frontman Ketch Secor told the crowd a band with so many banjos was the "perfect" act for West Virginia, and routinely yelled "Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers are always free)" during the band's set.