REVIEW: The Avett Brothers, Langhorne Slim end Musikfest on several high notes

 The Avett Brothers returned to Musikfest after a two-year absence.  (Courtesy Photo)

The Avett Brothers returned to Musikfest after a two-year absence. (Courtesy Photo)

If there was a way to harness the kinetic energy given off by The Avett Bothers during their Sunday night return to Musikfest, there would be enough to power the entire city of Bethlehem and then some.

The folk-rock outfit wrapped up Musikfest with an incredibly spirited and enthusiastic performance. They left barely seconds between the 22 songs with which they pummeled fans; working the crowd like a heavyweight prize fighter who had just trapped his opponent on the ropes.

To call it impressive is an understatement.

Before the Avett Brothers -- who previously headlined Musikfest in 2014 -- closed out the night, singer-songwriter Langhorne Slim opened the the show with a set that was just as potent as what would follow. Dressed in all black, Slim spent close to a half-hour delighting those in attendance with soulful, acoustic folk jams.

"I Love You, But Goodbye" and "Song for Sid" -- which Slim dedicated to his grandparents -- had the most bite. Midway through his set, the former Langhorne, Pennsylvania, resident was joined by Avett Brothers bassist, and longtime friend, Paul DeFiglia for a few songs. A thumping bass line added significant weight to Slim's "Be Set Free."

As the sun began to sink beyond the horizon, Slim said finished with the howling "Wolves." Slim then said his good-byes as The Avett Brothers soon walked out on stage and proceeded to turn the momentum dial past 11.

 Langhorne Slim, right, and Paul DeFiglia.  (Dustin Schoof Photo)

Langhorne Slim, right, and Paul DeFiglia. (Dustin Schoof Photo)

You could feel the electricity in the space as the band charged head-first with rousing renditions of the kazoo-driven instrumental jam "The D Bag Rag" and "Talk on Indolence." That was followed in rapid succession by the bouncy "Go to Sleep" and "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise." "Head Full of Doubt" seemed especially fitting as Scott Avett crooned "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light" while, off in the distance, flashes of lightning bounced across the cloudy nighttime sky.

"This is exceptionally beautiful countryside. It really is a joy to be here," brother Seth Avett later remarked.

Among the standout tracks were the funky country-folk romp "Ain't No Man," a gleefully up-tempo spin on Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue" and a fiery run through "Satan Pulls the Strings."

Soon after, a polite hush settled throughout the audience as Seth Avett stepped into the spotlight for a solo run on the tender "The Ballad of Love and Hate." Fans listened with enraptured attention as he strummed his guitar, glistening from the amount of sweat it had collected. The delicateness of the song reflected the balance in volume the Avett Brothers expertly control.

As if their show did not make it clear enough, there is no denying the Avett Brothers are truly dedicated to, and are visibly passionate about, their music. Their musicianship is impeccable and expertly on point. Not many acts can jump around that much in this heat without losing their place, flubbing a note or passing out (how any of its members did not land on the floor backside up is nothing short of a miracle.)

You really could not ask for a better way to end Musikfest.

SET LIST

THE AVETT BROTHERS

  • "The D Bag Rag" (instrumental)
  • "Talk on Indolence"
  • "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"
  • "Ain't No Man"
  • "True Sadness"
  • "Tangled Up in Blue" (Bob Dylan)
  • "The New Love Song"
  • "Smithsonian"
  • "You Are Mine"
  • "Paranoia in B Major"
  • "The Prettiest Thing" (David Childers & The Modern Don Juans)
  • "The Ballad of Love and Hate"
  • "Salina"
  • "Satan Pulls the Strings"
  • "Live and Die"
  • "Laundry Room"
  • "The Traveling Room"
  • "Morning Song"

Encore

  • "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)"
  • "I and Love and You"