4/30/14 – Paradise Rock Club

The Milk Carton Kids broke the record for Least Amount of Decibels Ever at The Paradise. That is, according to Joey Ryan, anyway. He is one of two singers and guitarists in the indie folk duo known as The Milk Carton Kids. The other, Kenneth Pattengale, accompanied Joey beautifully, harmonizing the lead vocals with his own as they stood close to each other, huddled around the same microphone. The necks and bodies of their guitars were almost touching.

While overlooking a tranquil sea of people, Joey announced on stage that this show was their biggest yet. Not in terms of the total amount of people present, but the amount of people that attended specifically for them. The venue was filled to capacity with roughly 933 in the crowd, yet this was one of the most attentive audiences I had ever been a part of. We were entranced by the sheer beauty of the music, most of which was slow or mid tempo, gently and precisely executed to borderline perfection. Kenneth played excellent lead guitar. He rarely took solos, but rather he would play along with Joey, artfully flowing up and down scales with expert precision. This is where their bluegrass influence is most prevalent, given the nature of Kenneth’s cohesive and continuous riffing.

Between songs Joey and Kenneth suddenly became part-time stand-up comedians. Their stage chemistry was off the charts, and the two of them would banter back and forth relieving the audience with their dueling wits. Joey had a way about him: every joke he told was completely dead-pan. His tone of voice would sound serious but from what he was saying it was clear that he was being sarcastic. At one point between songs he mentioned that they must have been the quietest band to have ever played at The Paradise. He then exclaimed: “Stop ordering glass bottles, it’s fucking up our show!” to which the audience responded with uproarious laughter.

Perhaps Joey worked on telling jokes between songs for a reason. A lot of the Milk Carton Kid’s catalog is so beautiful that at times it is heartbreaking. Toward the end of their set, the duo played one of their biggest hits: Michigan, a song about loss. As the song went on, the room immediately silenced. It was an unusual silence. It seemed as if it was possible hear the introspective thought and memory-chatter of each individual in the room. In that moment it seemed as if the everyday sounds of the club’s operations were not meant to be: the soft clinking of glasses as they were being washed- beer bottles gently being placed on the bar; the short conversations about drink orders. None of it mattered in the face of such true emotion being professed.

Their style reminded me a lot of Simon and Garfunkel, but this was the modern version. The Milk Carton Kids play a variation of folk that will leave both traditionalists and newcomers satisfied.


The Milk Carton Kids: A Record-Breaking Show
  • Beautiful songs
  • Funny stage banter
  • Great connection with the audience
  • Style was a little repetitive
8.9Overall Score
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