The Milk Carton Kids Live at Berklee Performance Center
The night kicked of with Joey Ryan’s introduction of Kacy & Clayton. A Milk Carton Kids show is equal parts beautiful harmonies and riotous banter as Ryan and Pattengale take small jabs at one another and exchange witty remarks, and this intro was no different. Joey explained that the group was from Saskatchewan, to which a voice offstage disagreed and Joey claimed his research methods must be flawed as that’s what their MySpace page confirmed.
From there, Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum rolled into their set, and what unfolded over the next 40 or so minutes was really something special. Anderson’s vocals have a timeless quality to them. They harken back to an intertwining of British folk and Laurel Canyon: simple, haunting, and beautiful. She effortlessy sang over Clayton’s incredible, unique fingerstyle guitar. The boy can play that thing like not many folks. He has one of the most interesting and engaging styles of guitar I have seen in a long, long time. His fingers fly across the frets and play all sorts of modulated chords that I couldn’t even quite wrap my head around.
The banter between Kacy & Clayton rivaled that of the night’s headliners: dry humor, stories, and divine harmonies. They ended the set with a broken string (D, I believe), to which Kacy cried out “why does this always happen!?” Despite Linthicum’s efforts to play on two strings, the result was “too power chord-like” and they concluded the tune a capella. I don’t think anyone complained about that.
Again, those harmonies.
I only wished that Clayton would have led a tune or two. I would have loved to hear his voice out in the open. I will be digging more deeply into this pair’s music, in the immediate future.
I don’t believe that there is a better group — or band, or duo, or solo artist — that has come out over the time that I have been listening to music than the Milk Carton Kids. For me, they check every single box that I could put on a page. While theirs is not a rock band sound, the two of them are able to produce a sonic quality that is full. Their music is big when it needs to be, but also soft, delicate, and gorgeous all at once. Their harmonies are unrivaled perfection. Kenneth Pattengale’s guitar playing sits in a league of its own. I used to draw comparisons to Dave Rawlings, but after last evening I came to the realization that this guy is god-like in his playing style and abilities, and requires no comparison.
The duo played old favorites, some of the best tunes from their 2015 release Monterey, and even ended the encore with a Pink Floyd cover. These are seasoned veterans of the stage. Each and every note is purposeful. Even when the banter goes toward what Kenneth calls “unchartered territory,” it’s perfect.
This night, Ryan compared Pattengale’s songs to how Donald Trump lives his life and Pattengale quipped back that Ryan is raising a child that may not be his own. It all just falls into place. This is what you should get when you go to a show: performers who are talented, who pen absolutely beautiful songs, and who engage the audience with stories and off-the-cuff banter.
I hope they come back soon, because this is one of the few bands that I will pay whatever the tickets cost, every time they come through town. You should do the same.