Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids are quite an odd couple. Ryan is tall, lanky, meek, and a tad awkward. Pattengale is short, spastic, and sweaty. But together, they unite to form something mesmerizing, stunningly beautiful, and entertaining. The other night at the Brighton Music Hall, the two gussied-up California gentlemen made me laugh, smile, and fall in love with their music all over again.
The opening act, Berklee School of Music student Molly Tuttle, blew away the unsuspecting crowd with her rapid fire bluegrass guitar work that would put even the most talented shredders to shame. It was a marvel to see such incredible technical skill combined with a sweet voice and fun, barn-storming songwriting. She reminded me a bit of Nickel Creek, if all three members were transformed into a single bluegrass superhero.
Joey Ryan took the stage unassumingly, saying a meek 'hello' and proceeding to give a hilarious deadpan welcome to the show. Throughout the rest of the show, he managed to give the audience a lesson on the use of the comma, as well as deliver playful jab after jab to his bandmate, bringing quite a bit of laughter to a show filled with sad songs. While Ryan stood almost perfectly still strumming his chords, Pattengale swayed and swayed, as if he was squeezing every bit of his soul into each note. His lead melodies tastefully intertwined with Ryan's guitar work and produced a full, yet extremely simple sound.
Touring behind their new record, The Ash & Clay, the Kids are playing to the biggest rooms yet (or as Ryan mentioned, "the second smallest room in Boston"). Luckily though, they still played quite a bit of material from their stunning debut studio album, Prologue. Vocal harmonies were flawless, and the clarity of their vintage guitars was unparalleled.
After observing the mannerisms of Ryan and Pattengale, the band's name takes on a much more real meaning. Each with a different and unusual approach to social situations, the two may have likely bonded over their social difficulties. Whether that story is true at all, I get the idea that music is what saved these two from being lost.