The South Carolina Music Guide
Show Reviews

The Milk Carton Kids Play The Charleston Music Hall

On Sunday, October 26th, the Milk Carton Kids took over the Charleston Music Hall. The band is currently on tour throughout the Southeast and so far, have appeared on shows such as Conan O’Brian, Prairie Home Companion and Austin City Limits. Joining forces for this tour with Sarah Jarosz, the young men, Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, had no opening act but rather began the evening with folk renditions that reminded us of old familiar styles such as Simon and Garfunkle

Understated, yet soulful, Pattengale started off the set with cooing chords. Ryan’s soft vocals tell tales of hope and love. What happened next explained their rise in popularity and offered keen insight as to how they’ve grown professionally so quickly. As soon as Pattengale opened his mouth, it was if they had become a single voice. Having just released their first album, Retrospect, in 2011, the pair have perfected a sophisticated sound that echoed throughout the Music Hall’s corridors.

Ryan’s gift with playing his 1951 Gibson J-45 added a melodious affirmation to Pattengale’s sometimes racy riffs on his 1954 Martin 0-15. Their familiarity with the antique guitars added an allure to their exceptional harmonies, as the guitars also sang in unison, balancing freshness and complexity.

Sarah Jarosz, a 23 year old songstress who has also been nominated for a Grammy for Mansinneedof and Build Me Up From Bones, joined them on stage and added depth to the already beautiful construct. She is considered to be a musical prodigy and has captured the attention of Rolling Stone and the like, with her grasp of mandolin, guitar and banjo. Her collaboration with MCK has been successful and well received. At the Music Hall, it was clear that they are a musical match made in Heaven, and the crowd ate it up!

Pushing the edges of Bluegrass and Folk, the band alternated styles and singers throughout the evening. Pattengale continued to show off his masterful solos and had, by the end of the night, converted folk “virgins” into fans. This concert truly showcased an amazing set of skills, beautiful vocals, and some of the best damn songwriting I’ve heard since Jason Isbell, and that, my friends, is saying a lot!


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