Adelaide International Guitar Festival

Guitar Festival Review: The Milk Carton Kids

Allow The Milk Carton Kids’ intricate folk melodies to captivate and entrance you

Allow The Milk Carton Kids’ intricate folk melodies to captivate and entrance you

Presented by: Adelaide Guitar Festival
Reviewed: 13 July, 2023

The Milk Carton Kids effortlessly perform their intricate folk melodies with down to earth banter and jokes, reminding the audience of their grass roots origins in Eagle Rock, California. Joey Ryan welcomes everyone and admits it is an “emotionally charged” night for the band, being the last performance of their Australian tour. He makes the local crowd giggle when he gushes over our koalas. 

Their opening act is the poetic and talented Vera Sola, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. Vera Sola’s soulful style is complimented by her deep voice. Her lyrics unfold like a narrative, taking the audience on a journey. Her songs include Crooked Houses and The Colony. Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids joins her for a series of duets. “I’ll let you in on a secret. We didn’t come to the guitar festival in 2020, but we did get married,” she says with an infectious grin. Their on stage chemistry is endearing and enhances their performance.

Ryan and Pattengale play flawlessly together as The Milk Carton Kids. They largely play acoustic guitars, although Ryan indulges in the banjo for a few nostalgic songs. Pattengale’s melodies are as complex as classical guitar, while the lyrics and Ryan’s vocals borrow the style of American folk and blues. A truly irresistible combination. They captivate and entrance the audience, even from the cheap seats in the back. Their songs include I Only See the MoonOne True Love, and North Country Ride from their new album, in addition to some old favourites.

Her Majesty’s Theatre seems too austere for The Milk Carton Kids. They should be performing in a picturesque backwater hipster bar with fifty audience members packed into the tight space, enthusiasm reverberating around the room. Not a theatre whose numbered seats come with velvet cushions. However, the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd necessitates a larger space. 

The Milk Carton Kids are a bright breath of fresh air amongst the many talented offerings during the Guitar Festival. 

Reviewed by Nicola Woolford

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: ended
Duration: 120 minutes

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