The proceedings could not have started more simply. On the Rupp Arena stage last night, before a crowd of 4,300, was a single microphone surrounded by the evening’s three featured performers – opening act Jessica Lea Mayfield and headliner siblings Scott and Seth Avett.
The song at hand, Mayfield’s For Today, was a suitably twisted love parable full of fevered restlessness. But when the Avetts joined in on the chorus, the tune became something less fearful. It sounded like an indie pop variation of a campfire song. Mayfield’s twilight-hued lyrics may have driven the story, but the resulting harmonies touched on the kind of primitive blues, folk and even country that the Avetts have made very much their own over the past decade.
Of course, when the Avetts’ featured set emerged later in the program, such simplicity was stripped down, reconstructed and generally turned inside out in a performance full of combustible physical energy, storylines of hippie-esque hope that would do the Grateful Dead proud and a musical vocabulary that never seemed to run short of invention.