One of my most anticipated concerts of this spring was The Milk Carton Kids and The Avett Brothers at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, April 29, 2016. I’ve seen both these bands within the last couple years, so I already had an idea of what to expect. Having purchased a pit ticket I arrived early and was able to secure a place front and ever-so-slightly off center, which is exactly where I like to be for a show. It was great to be in the pit to be close to the performers.
The Milk Carton Kids are a subdued duo combining beautiful harmonies between Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, poetic lyrics, and stunning guitar runs. Unfortunately, the crowd streaming into the venue and chatting through the first few songs of the set felt distracting and disjointed to the connection between artist and audience. It may have even been bothering the musicians as they made a false start at the beginning of “New York” and had to stop and regroup, Kenneth remarking “It’s been a long year.” It felt like they finally grabbed the attention of the crowd with their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” as the audience became more focused on the stage and less on themselves after that point. The pair took a long break to tell the story of “Charlie” to the audience prior to playing it and after the song there were a few women in the pit vocally volunteering to be Charlie’s mama. When introducing “I Still Want a Little More,” Joey remarked, “We’ve been together six years and over that time, it’s become really clear that Kenneth is the better guitar player.” While true, Joey provides a rock solid foundation with his playing from which Kenneth can confidently launch his mind-boggling lightning fast solos. I can’t really list highlights as I love every single one of the songs they played, though maybe “New York” and “Michigan” a smidgen more than the others.
The Milk Carton Kids full set list was as follows:
- “Hope of a Lifetime” from The Ash & Clay
- “The Ash & Clay” from The Ash & Clay
- “The City of Our Lady” from Monterey
- “New York” from Prologue
- “Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd cover)
- “Heaven” from The Ash & Clay
- “Charlie” from Retrospect (as Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan)
- “Michigan” from Prologue
- “I Still Want a Little More” from Prologue
- “Girls, Gather ’round” from Retrospect (as Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan)
- “Snake Eyes” from The Ash & Clay
If one can wish for an ideal concert experience, at least imagining what the music side of that would be like, I’ve learned that The Avett Brothers are genies at making wishes come true. The band kicked off the show with a lively instrumental from an early album, “The D Bag Rag,” then quickly snatched up any casual fans by playing the popular “Down With the Shine,” which is great as a crowd singalong. They played a diverse selection of songs from their repertoire, mixing together old and new songs, rocking the crowd as well as slowing the tempo right down, and singing of the emotional highs and lows one experiences in a lifetime. There was so much material covered in their lyrics that one could relate to and the music backing the message was first-rate.
Throughout the show Scott and Seth Avett sought variety by changing guitars, switching to banjo or piano, or putting down the instruments to focus on vocals and hand-clapping the rhythm. Members of the band provided superb accompaniment: Bob Crawford on bass; Joe Kwon on cello, Paul Defiglia on piano, Mike Marsh on drums, and Tania Elizabeth on violin. The band members performed with so much energy and heart it would be difficult not to be enraptured by their work. Their efforts made for an outstanding, authentic show, which never felt predictable. Joe and Tania particularly added a lot of flare and talent to the evening. Are there any other cello players that perform standing up, sometimes playing while moving around the stage? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it before.
A particularly special moment for me was then Scott and Seth came to the front of the stage, mere feet from were I was standing. When I had arrived, I had noticed the tape on edge of the stage marking “things will happen here.” It was a wonderful teaser of a message, which held true to its word. They played two new songs “Fisher Road to Hollywood” and “I Wish I Were” from this position. Check out the links for the videos I shot of those two tunes that night. The songs will be on the forthcoming album True Sadness. Of course, I have to use the line “From Fisher Road to Hollywood” for the post title.
The Avett Brothers set list was:
- “The D Bag Rag” from A Carolina Jubilee
- “Down With the Shine” from The Carpenter
- “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” from I and Love and You
- “Ain’t No Man” from True Sadness
- “Die Die Die” from Emotionalism
- “Talk on Indolence” from Four Thieves Gone
- “Part From Me“from Magpie and the Dandelion
- “Laundry Room” from I and Love and You
- “Live and Die” from The Carpenter
- “Fisher Road to Hollywood” from True Sadness
- “I Wish I Was” from True Sadness
“Murder in the City” from The Gleam II
- “Le Reel Du Pendu/Les Bars De La Prison” performed by Tania Elizabeth
- “True Sadness” from True Sadness
- “Country Blues” (Doc Watson cover)
- “Living of Love” from Emotionalism
- “Vanity” from Magpie and the Dandelion
- “Slight Figure of Speech” from I and Love and You
- “I and Love and You” from I and Love and You
- “Mama Tried” (Merle Haggard cover)
- “The Fall” from Four Thieves Gone
- “Morning Song” from Magpie and the Dandelion