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The Avett Brothers at KAABOO 2016, September 18th. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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RECAP: There was a very “Southern” feel to Day 2 of KAABOO. From Texas’ Shakey Graves to Alabama’s Jason Isbell to North Carolina’s Avett Brothers, there was a whole lotta banjo on the stage Day 2. But The Avett Brothers (much like Shakey Graves) can’t really be pigeonholed. They have their own thing going on. With all that banjo comes a whole lot of kazoos (plural), some violin, harmonica, cello. It’s a slice of Americana, but a very symphonic slice.

After Jason Isbell’s recital of somber country dirges, the Avett Brothers were a perfect counter punch. With everyone leaping around the stage, it’s like a flea circus – if fleas could squeeze into blue jeans and wear big felt hats. The wall of kazoo and dueling fiddles, the cello player thrashing around like a glam rocker, it was a spectacle of musical delight.

The Avett Brothers at KAABOO 2016, September 18th. Setlist.“Satan’s ringing and I gotta take that call” is the mantra being looped as the crowd starts to wake up and get down to the honky tonk good times. As the people started to liven up, they unleash a barrage of beach balls into the crowd. Being as it’s a festival, there are a couple of young ladies in the crowd who served as “professional” beach ball wranglers, throwing them back into the audience to add an extra dimension of unnecessary “fun”. One woman goes to kick a ball, misses it entirely, spills her $12 beer down the gaping crevice between her two big fake boobs, drops her sunglasses, and then steps on said sunglasses. And gave no fucks. That’s how you do it with the Avett Brothers. Super drunky, spin in circles til you collapse, good time music. It’s rad. I’d see them in a small venue. I’d see them in a stadium. It doesn’t matter where they’re playing. They can serve court in any venue.

Amid all the joyous revelry, my eyes are drawn to the backdrop. It’s a memento mori still life of a human skull and a couple odd objects. Massive, 30 feet high and stretched across the back of the stage. A soft reminder that we drink and we dance and we fall down laughing because we can. Because we must. Because at some point, we’re all gonna end up in a dirt nap taking the long savasana. My meditation on the stage decoration seemed to preface a shift in energy.

The Avett Brothers are a special group of players with the ability to connect with each other on stage as each player dominates their instrument of choice, whether it be a kazoo or cello, into submission, while captivating a festival crowd of thousands. When they play, it’s a family embarking on a musical journey with the hopes that everyone else hops on board. Midway through their set, they invited another KAABOO performer to join their family to play a couple of tunes: G. Love for “Milk & Sugar” and “The Road”. They also extended that sense of family by joining Jack Johnson’s later in the evening to play “Home” and “Better Together”. That sense of community that they bring to the stage as a band and for others, the crowd included, seems to be what makes this band so special. God bless them. Can’t wait to be part of the family again.

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