Bros before woes 

Photo: Moses Namkung

Some bands rue the day where they play in massive arenas and amphitheaters instead of midsized concert halls. Folk rock’s The Avett Brothers, however, relish it.

“We have more tools at our disposal than we ever have. There’s been a gradual progression, watching the size of the rooms we were playing in increase. It’s been awesome to see what we can attempt in these huge rooms now,” Seth Avett said. “We’re doing longer shows than we ever have, too. Most of the shows we are playing for two, two and a half hours at this point. That’ll force you to bring a bigger arsenal with you.”

What began as a humble sibling experiment between North Carolina natives Seth and Scott Avett has evolved into one of the most renowned live bands on the circuit today.

A string of increasingly critically and commercially successful albums — most recently, 2009’s I and Love and You — and sold-out shows culminated in a much-discussed 2011 Grammy performance, where the Avetts found themselves joined onstage by
fellow indie roots revivalists Mumford & Sons and icon Bob Dylan
for a rendition of the latter’s hit “Maggie’s Farm.” The performance rocketed The Avett Brothers to new heights.

“It was a surreal, incredible experience: 30-something-million people watching us? A little more attention is unavoidable,” Seth Avett said. “It’s another story for the grandchildren. I’ll never forget it.”

Would work

The attention and ensuing pressure haven’t proved bothersome. The outfit is pushing toward the release of their sixth studio album, The Carpenter (due Sept. 11), some of which will be heard at Friday’s Chesapeake Energy Arena concert.

“Something that is going to be pretty clear to those who have followed us over the years: We are obviously more comfortable in this new era,” Seth Avett said. “I and Love and You reads like the first step in a new era, and the new record comes
across more like we got our sea legs. We are more comfortable in this
new place of more scrutiny, in our new skin. It’s just the next chapter
for us.”

The Carpenter marks
the second Avett album overseen by all-star producer Rick Rubin
(Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers), who has played a
massive role in the metamorphosis from indie darling to arena headliner.

didn’t used to take so much time to make a record. We’d do it in a week
and never look back,” Avett said. “Now, it’s about taking as much time
as it takes to get it where it needs to be, and that’s the right way to
think about it.”

disc is largely dedicated to the renovation the band has undergone
through its recent history, with the title not so subtly alluding to the

lot of the songs seemed to be speaking toward the construction or
deconstruction of a lot of things, whether that’s brick and mortar or a
relationship,” Seth Avett said. “It’s the building of a person. It’s the
building of this band, and all the years it’s taken … how our fans have
built us into this band we couldn’t have ever been otherwise.”

With all but the sequencing completed, the focus, of course, returns to how to translate the songs live.

“The live show is what sustains us. That’s
where we put our energy into, and that’s where most of our perspective
comes from. The albums dictate what we try to pull off live,” he said.
“There’s a few songs on this record that are going to challenge us.
There’s one song that is a very heavy rock song, and exactly how we are
going to approach that one, I have no idea. It’ll definitely push us to
utilize whatever skills we have.”

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