This was one of the first concert reviews I wrote for
“The Santa Barbara Independent” that they published. I was in my senior year at UCSB and was diving head first into the world of music journalism and it was almost too much fun! I didn’t know anything about this band before and kind of fell in love with them during the show.
The Milk Carton Kids performed at the Lobero Theatre for their fourth time on Wednesday, September 30. Fixed with only one microphone and a great sense of self-deprecating humor, the duo enraptured their audience with their incredible vocal and acoustic guitar talents and a good dose of banter.
After a comedic introduction by Joey Ryan, Joe Pug impressed as the solo opening act with his harmonica, an acoustic guitar and his “very tattoo-able” lyrics. Then the headlining harmonic folk duo took the stage with “Hope of a Lifetime.” Kenneth Pattengale effortlessly picked the acoustic strings through the softer song, continually swaying with eyes closed. In the following track, “Shooting Shadows,” Pattengale showcased his immense talent through complicated guitar solos.
After an upbeat “The City of Our Lady,” the pair took a break to make fun of each other and the audience, which, as observed by Pattengale, was filled with mostly the elder generation. Ryan also took this time to express his pride in “creating his own people” by having his first child.
The next song was dedicated to Pattengale’s not-yet-existing daughter, Charlie. The sweet ballad was a melodic letter to “Charlie” with Pattengale expressing love and concern for his future child. Although he may not have seen every eye in the audience, there was not likely a single dry one in the house.
Following that, Ryan and Pattengale played the title track from their 2013 album, The Ash and Clay. Then bringing up the energy so even the stoic Ryan began to move to his own music, they played the catchy “Honey, Honey” from the same album.
The theme of the entire show seemed to revolve around having children, specifically the birth of Ryan’s two-year-old. After Pattengale seemed to insult his audience by consistent jokes stereotyping the elderly, Ryan took over the microphone to tell of the father’s sacrifice during childbirth. In a monotone voice, he sarcastically dramatized his role and the terror that he experienced during his wife’s 18-hour labor.
After receiving roaring laughs from the audience and making himself giggle a few times, Ryan lead his partner and him into “Snake Eyes.” They concluded their set list with a powerful “I Still Want a Little More,” from their debut album, Prologue.
But the folk pair weren’t finished just yet. Describing The Lobero as one of their favorite places to play, Ryan and Pattengale emerged back on stage to play another of the lyrically rich tracks, “New York.” The second encore was a creative rendition of Pink Floyd’s classic, “Wish You Were Here,” which gave the audience a glance into the pair’s musical influences.
It is clear that The Milk Carton Kids love what they do and love that they can do it together. The lyrics and melodies of each song are equally unique and emotionally charged and the energy produced is truly something inspired.