CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winter weather, chilly winds and icy road conditions did little to dissuade the crowds from coming to see the Avett Brothers Saturday night. Music fans and hard-core true-believers, some from as far away as Indiana, braved the cold, stood in long lines outside the Charleston Municipal Auditorium and then stumbled around in the dark trying to find their seats to this sold-out show.
Inside the building, it was a little chaotic and crowded, but still very exciting to see so many people out to catch a show at the Municipal.
The Municipal Auditorium is kind of the redheaded stepchild of local concert venues and is usually considered a poor (but cheaper) substitute for the richly appointed Clay Center.
The building shows its age, too, with cracked paint, chipped plaster and a dated façade.
The acoustics, too, aren't nearly as good as the Clay Center's either, but that tends to count more with performers whose music is more subtle and vocal-oriented, like a Tony Bennett or a Harry Connick, Jr.
There is little about the Avett Brothers that's subtle. Their music, their vocals and their lyrics eschew the delicate for openhearted earnestness and seemingly reckless abandon. If things sound a little muddy around the edges, so what? It's only rock n' roll.
Their loud, raucous sound worked just fine at the Municipal Auditorium. It absolutely roared.
To be fair, the opener, Jill Andrews, turned in a pretty great performance, too. Offering a more subdued and sparser sound, Andrews brought some interestingly moody material to the stage that was complementary, though very different flavor from the main act.
The main act, of course, was the occasionally frenetic Avett Brothers.
Throughout their 90-minute plus set, the boys joyously plowed through a score of songs that were a mix of rock, folk, bluegrass, punk and who knows what else? The pace was brisk but workmanlike, with little banter in between tunes.
Still, it didn't feel like they were cramming in songs, one after another, because that was what was expected of them. It seemed like the band just wanted to give their fans as much of them as they could in the time they had to work with.
And Avett Brother fans seemed like a pretty devoted lot. Other artists talk about what a treat it is to hear people in the audience singing along to their radio hits. It's a kind of validation, proof that their music means something to someone.
The audience of the Avett Brothers sang along to nearly all of the band's songs. At times, the singing crowd threatened to drown out the people on the stage -and this is for a group not really known for actual top 40 radio hits.
It was impressive.
The Avett Brothers put on an exhilarating, fun show; the kind of show everyone wishes came around more often to Charleston, but sadly, seems kind of rare.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.