Avett Brothers' fans enjoy HDTV debut

Fans of The Avett Brothers traveled from as far away as Raleigh and Spartanburg to be part of the first-time event in Concord.

The American Recordings artists' sold-out concert from Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado was simulcast on the world's largest HDTV at Charlotte Motor Speedway on July 9. Hundreds of people turned out to watch the show on the 80-foot-by-200-foot screen. Tickets cost $10 in advance and rose to $20 on the day of concert, though coupons were available.

The speedway provided concert-grade speakers and turned the infield area in front of the screen into a one-of-a-kind concert venue. Minus a few glitches early on - a problem at Red Rocks disrupted the live feed and affected the first few songs - speedway officials were pleased.

"Considering this was the first time the speedway hosted an event like this, the fan turnout was strong," said speedway representative Adrian Parker. "We attribute that to the band's rabid following in the Carolinas, the novelty attraction of the world's largest HDTV and the 'cool' factor of watching The Avett Brothers perform at a venue like Red Rocks."

The band's front men, Scott and Seth Avett, grew up on their father's farm in rural Concord. The group's popularity took off in 2009 after the release of their debut album, "I and Love and You." In February, the group performed alongside Bob Dylan at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Sell-out concerts are now routine for the band.

"The Avett's did a fantastic job calling out to the speedway crowd from Red Rocks on several occasions," said Parker. "Toward the latter part of the show, Seth Avett dedicated 'In the Curve' to the speedway crowd. When he delivered the line, 'I'll see you in Concord tonight,' the crowd went wild."

The Avett Brothers' manager, Concord's Dolph Ramseur, pitched the simulcast idea to speedway officials. He told them he wanted to see the world's greatest band, performing from one of the greatest venues, on the world's largest HDTV.

"He brought the idea to us, and we didn't flinch," said Parker. "This was something totally new for the speedway, and after being here for 52 years, there aren't many events we host that we'd consider brand new.

"It was great to bring to the speedway a lot of first-time fans who experienced a one-of-a-kind event from the comfort of their lawn chairs. Moving forward, we will definitely apply what we learned from this event to make future events even better for the fans."

While nothing is scheduled, speedway officials are exploring different possibilities that would use the screen to lure in first-time visitors and longtime fans.

"Whether it's movies, concert simulcasts or actual live shows, the big screen opens the door to a lot of possibilities," said Parker.

Sue Nash of Harrisburg said she is excited about the possibility of future events on the big screen.

When asked what she would like to see in the future, she said, "Definitely more live concerts from neat places like Red Rocks. Drive-in (events) with different types of movies and things like that would be cool."

Gail Seifel of Concord said she attended the simulcast because she had heard a lot about the band and wanted to check them out.

"It's a great setup with the big movie screen," she said. "I would love to see more concerts and movies out here."