The Avett Brothers
North Charleston Coliseum
Sun. Feb. 12

Any questions about whether or not the Avett Brothers were ready to play the North Charleston Coliseum were answered about six songs into their Sunday night performance. Consistent problems with brother Seth Avett’s guitar forced him and sibling Scott Avett to gather around one mic. For us, as brothers and longtime fans of the band, it was a treat to share the experience.

In a room infamous for its echoes, normally requiring plenty of wattage to fill it out, the duo returned to making the sort of intimate music that earned them a hardcore fan base throughout the mid-2000s. The full band returned with cellist Joe Kwon and drummer Jacob Edwards. Kwon frayed the heck out of his bow, but he was more toned down and jumped around less than usual. A substitute bassist filled in for the third official member, Bob Crawford (who is on a long term leave of absence from the band to care for his sick daughter), but the band never introduced him. Despite the substitution, the Avetts managed to retain the living-room vibe, delivering a memorable, personal performance that earned them rights to a return trip to Charleston’s big room.

Those who showed up expecting an extravagant display of newfound fame from a big-name band didn’t get it. Instead, Seth and Scott showed an outstanding range of emotion and perseverance. Perhaps never before has the Coliseum felt so much like a small-town bar with a friendly atmosphere, welcoming just about anyone.

The night began with a bangin’ rendition of “And It Spread,” firing up the crowd before crowd favorites “Tin Man” and “Shame.” Various technical difficulties forced them to take short breaks to figure things out. At one point, Seth announced, “To be perfectly honest, this is one of those nights when you step up on stage and everything is broken.” He then went on to say that he could feel the crowd’s enthusiasm, excitement, and forgiveness, despite all the technical troubles, and that’s what was really important.

Switching gears, the Avetts announced that they were going to sing a sort of prayer. What followed was a truly beautiful acoustic duo of Seth and Scott singing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” through one microphone, transforming the Coliseum into a remarkable space that, plainly stated, just felt comfortable.

After the long set ended with “Colorshow,” Scott Avett returned solo for the first encore, singing “Murder in the City,” followed by Seth’s performance of “The Ballad of Love and Hate.” It all led up to the finale of “Kick Drum Heart,” their biggest single to date, but it flowed, and you can’t argue with that.

The show catered to the Charleston crowd with the Avett Brothers playing a lot of their mainstream material and not too much of their older stuff, leaving some diehard fans slightly wanting. However, they knew their audience well enough to connect with them, and most everyone left the Coliseum satisfied and happy.

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