Them Concord boys sure do clean up nice, don't they? As per usual, the Avett Brothers were dressed to the nines while making their big performance on last night's episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, but their snazzy duds failed to cover up a snag in execution.
Sure, I grinned like a proud papa when Dave—holding up a vinyl copy of I And Love And You, officially released just minutes earlier—kicked it over to our Avetts. Seth Avett struck out the first chords of the title track on a grand piano. But I flinched when the camera turned toward center stage, revealing Mike Marsh (Dashboard Confessional) behind the drums rather than Scott Avett, who usually mans the kit for live performances of the tune. I cringed more when Scott began hesitantly plucking at an out-of-tune banjo, assuredly a prop to get the elder Avett out from behind the drum kit for the television audience.
The move clearly made Scott uncomfortable and marred the otherwise finely-orchestrated song. Still, the band's performance was mostly on point, and they did an admirable job of trimming 90 seconds from the five-minute album version of "I And Love And You" to make it TV-friendly, though the sped-up, abridged version of the song—perhaps the most gorgeous from the polished major label debut—was robbed of a bit its slow unfolding.
Early returns find I And Love And You sitting pretty at the No. 10 slot on iTunes and No. 22 on Amazon. Surely the Letterman performance, even if it disappointed a bit. spurred a number of those sales. Who knows, maybe the Avett Brothers were just keeping it real with the crowd who can't imagine their Avetts without a banjo. After all, out-of-tune instruments are nothing new for the band and something fans have learned to love (or at least live with).
Or maybe Scott said it best himself when singing "you can't make everybody happy all of the time" during their nervous national television debut two and a half years ago on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Seems like that one worked out pretty well for them, huh?
Anyway, here's hoping they let tour manager and de facto stagehand Dane Honeycutt give the banjo another once-over before hitting the screen again next Tuesday on The Late Late Show.