The Milk Carton Kids 

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Music Hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

I’ve barely seen a show all summer! Summer is when I recharge after an inevitably crazy school year, so dealing with what seems to be an epidemic of awful concert etiquette at shows is really low on my summer to-do list these days. Dan and I did make a plan, however, to celebrate my last day of school with a Milk Carton Kids show at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. He put their song “Michigan” on a mix CD he made for me (I know–he is thoughtful and knows me so well!) early on in our relationship. I’d heard of the band, but didn’t know their music at all. I was excited to give them a try.

We made our way to Portsmouth with time to enjoy a delicious and wonderfully unique Himalayan dinner at Durbar Square Restaurant. We tried a lot of things and highly recommend it! We grabbed our second row seats just before the show started. Something I enjoy about The Music Hall (and most seated shows anywhere) is that folks in the audience tend to be there for the music and exhibit proper concert etiquette, which is rarer and rarer these days. Yes, I’m a broken record about this, but at least I shut up and listen at shows!

Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan remind me a lot of Kyle Jahnke and Andy Baxter of a band I adore, Penny & Sparrow. Their songs are serious and often sad, but their banter with the audience and each other is absolutely hilarious. Joey is the funny guy. He introduced “A Sea of Roses” thusly:

He [Kenneth] had a difficult breakup and a cancer diagnosis. I am happy to say he’s completely cured and is fine now. He has new love in his life and some hormone pills that keep him relatively even. Everything’s been going pretty well for me. I did lose my glasses. And after months trying to find a suitable replacement, I gave up and now the whole world is blurry. I don’t mean to compare anybody’s misfortunes. All of Kenneth’s trials and tribulations are in the past, while I’m still dealing with this. Many of the songs Kenneth wrote for this album are personal and it’s some of the most beautiful and revealing he’s written in a long time. But due to an early agreement between us, I do own half of the songs. Ok, that’s enough now. Do you want to do your cancer song now? I mean, our cancer song.

We laughed so much all night long. I was also blown away by Kenneth’s guitar playing, too. What I didn’t connect with was their songwriting, which turns out to be the most important thing for me. Dan loves the Milk Carton Kids and generally appreciates music that sounds good to listen to. No argument from me that their music sounds amazing, but I care more about the lyrics, which I just didn’t connect with, unfortunately. Still, I was entertained from start to finish and am really glad we started my summer vacation off with a truly fun musical adventure.




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